Polycythemia vera (PV) develops very slowly. It may not cause signs or symptoms for years. If you have PV, the sooner it's diagnosed, the sooner your doctor can begin treating you. With proper treatment, you can prevent or delay complications.
Moderate physical activities, such as walking, can safely increase your heart rate and improve blood flow to your body. Improving blood flow lowers your risk of blood clots. Leg and ankle stretching exercises also can help improve your blood flow.
PV may cause itching all over your body. It's important not to scratch and damage your skin. If bathing or showering causes you to have severe itching, try using cooler water and gentler soap. Carefully and gently dry your skin after baths, and use moisturizing lotion on your skin. Starch baths also may help ease itchy skin.
PV causes poor blood flow in your hands and feet. As a result, you may be more prone to injuries from cold, heat, and pressure. If you have PV, avoid long-term exposure to extremes in temperature or pressure. For example:
If you have PV, you'll need lifelong medical care for the disease. Ask your doctor how often you should schedule followup visits.
Routine care will allow your doctor to detect any changes with your PV and treat them early, if needed. You may need periodic blood tests to show whether the disease is getting worse.
Follow your treatment plan and take all of your medicines exactly as your doctor prescribes.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Polycythemia Vera, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
November 20, 2013
Gary H. Gibbons
New NHLBI Program Trains Scientists to Bring More Science Out of the Lab and into the Patient Care Marketplace
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.