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Definition Return to top
Hemolysis is the breakdown of red blood cells.
See also: Hemolytic anemia
Information Return to top
Red blood cells normally live for 110 - 120 days. After that, they naturally break down and are usually removed from the circulation by the spleen.
Some diseases and processes cause red blood cells to break down too soon. This requires the bone marrow to make more red blood cells than normal. The balance between red blood cell breakdown and production determines how low the red blood cell count becomes.
Conditions that can cause hemolysis include:
References Return to top
Scwartz RS. Autoimmune and intravascular hemolytic anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 164.Update Date: 11/23/2008 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.