Difference between Hemoglobin and Hematocrit

When a person begins to feel weariness and appear pallor, one of the first things that the doctor checks him for is anaemia, a condition that results from a drop in the level of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the body.

The two things that the doctors check to confirm if the person is suffering from anemia are hemoglobin and hematocrit.

A lot of people fall under the impression that hemoglobin and hematocrit are one and the same thing, which is actually not the case. There are some very obvious differences between the two.

One of the biggest differences between hemoglobin and hematocrit is that the former is a protein, whereas the latter is a measurement.

Another difference between the two is that hematocrit is a measure of the overall volume of red blood cells in the blood, whereas hemoglobin is just a component. This consequently means that hemoglobin is a part of hematocrit.

Hemoglobin and hematocrit also end up being confused as the same thing because they both change parallel. This basically means that one the level of one falls, the level of the other falls in the bloodstream as well and vice versa.


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    Hemoglobin is found inside the red blood cell and is made of protein. It is defined as a metallo-protein, since it is made of protein that has a metal in its core. The red colour of red blood cells is due to the presence of haemoglobin in it. It is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs or gills to the different tissues and organs in the body. The iron in hemoglobin readily combines with oxygen and allows it to be transported. In the absence of haemoglobin, the ability of blood to transport would fall by 70 folds.  Aside from red blood cells, hemoglobin is present in macrophages, alveolar cells and neurons as well. When the level of hemoglobin falls in the blood, a person begins to feel tired, struggles to concentrate and becomes intolerant to exercise. If the condition is not dealt with urgently, it can lead to death, as the tissues require a constant supply of oxygen to function properly.

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    Hematocrit is also known as erythrocyte volume fraction or packed cell volume. It is basically a measurement of the percentage of red blood cells in the blood. In men, the count is typically 45 percent, whereas the measurement is 40 percent for women. Hematocrit can be measured through various methods such as centrifuging the heparinised blood, separating blood into different levels and then using the layer heights to calculate volume percentage. Another method to determine hematocrit is to use an automated analyze.

    Image Courtesy: biology.clc.uc.edu

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