Primary polycythemia (polycythemia vera) can't be prevented. However, with proper treatment, you can prevent or delay symptoms and complications.
Sometimes you can prevent secondary polycythemia by avoiding things that deprive your body of oxygen for long periods. For example, you can avoid mountain climbing, living at a high altitude, or smoking.
People who have serious heart or lung diseases may develop secondary polycythemia. Treatment for the underlying disease may improve the secondary polycythemia. Following a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk of heart and lung diseases also will help you prevent secondary polycythemia.
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.