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Lab Test

Erythropoietin (EPO)

Erythropoietin, commonly known as EPO, is a hormone produced by the kidneys. This hormone plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells (erythrocytes) by stimulating the bone marrow. The production of EPO is usually triggered by low oxygen levels in the blood, which can occur due to various factors such as anemia or living at high altitudes. Erythropoietin is essential for maintaining a normal red blood cell count, which is crucial for the transport of oxygen throughout the body.

  • Profile Name: Erythropoietin (EPO)
  • Sample Type: Blood
  • Preparations Required: There are no special preparations needed for the EPO test. However, it's advisable to inform your doctor of any medications or supplements you are taking as some may affect the test results.
  • Report Time: 6 hours

What is the Erythropoietin (EPO) test used for?

The EPO test is used to evaluate the production levels of erythropoietin in the blood, helping to understand the role it may be playing in a person's red blood cell count. It's often used in cases of anemia or polycythemia (high red blood cell count).

How is the EPO test performed?

The EPO test is performed by taking a blood sample from a vein in your arm. This sample is then sent to a laboratory, where the level of erythropoietin is measured.

Home Sample Collection Process

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Sample Collection by Phlebotomist
Sample Collection by Phlebotomist
Reporting of the sample at lab
Reporting of the sample at lab
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Frequently Asked Questions

Higher than normal levels of EPO may indicate that your body is attempting to produce more red blood cells due to low oxygen levels. This can be due to chronic conditions such as kidney disease, or living at high altitudes. Lower than normal levels might indicate that EPO production is insufficient for the body's needs.

Your doctor might order this test if you have an abnormal red blood cell count or symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue or shortness of breath. It can also be ordered to help differentiate between different types of anemia or to evaluate the function of the kidneys.

There are minimal risks associated with having blood drawn for an EPO test. You may experience slight pain, bruising, or bleeding at the site where the needle was inserted.

Certain factors such as kidney disease, bone marrow disorders, tumors, and medications can affect the levels of EPO. Additionally, living at high altitudes, where oxygen is less available, can increase EPO levels.

Management of EPO levels depends on the underlying cause. In cases of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, synthetic erythropoietin may be administered. In cases where EPO levels are abnormally high, treatment is aimed at the underlying cause.

Yes, since EPO increases the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the muscles, it has been used illegally by some athletes to enhance performance in endurance sports. This is known as blood doping and is banned in professional sports.

Yes, there are certain genetic conditions that can affect EPO production and lead to abnormalities in red blood cell counts.

The kidneys are the primary production site for EPO. Chronic kidney disease can reduce the kidney's ability to produce EPO, which can lead to anemia.

Yes, certain medications such as those used for chemotherapy or to suppress the immune system can affect EPO levels.

Yes, it is also used to monitor patients who are receiving synthetic erythropoietin for the treatment of anemia, especially in cases of chronic kidney disease.

Normal levels of EPO range from 2.6 to 18.5 mU/ml, but normal ranges can vary between laboratories.

There’s no need to fast or avoid any specific foods or drinks before the test.

If your EPO levels are abnormal, it is advisable to consult your primary care doctor who may refer you to a hematologist or a nephrologist, depending on the underlying cause.

EPO levels can be crucial in diagnosing various conditions that affect red blood cell production and oxygen transport. It's important to remember that abnormal EPO levels are a symptom, not a disease in themselves. Proper diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause are essential for managing conditions associated with abnormal EPO levels.

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