High hemoglobin count may occur because:

  • Your red blood cell production increases to compensate for chronically low blood oxygen levels due to poor heart or lung function.
  • You have a bone marrow dysfunction that results in increased production of red blood cells.
  • Your red blood cell production increases to compensate for a limited oxygen supply in higher altitudes.
  • You smoke.
  • You've taken drugs or hormones, most commonly erythropoietin (EPO), that stimulate red blood cell production. You're not likely to get a high hemoglobin count from EPO given to you if you have chronic kidney disease. However, EPO doping — getting injections to enhance athletic performance — can cause a high hemoglobin count.

Specific disorders or other factors that may cause high hemoglobin count include:

  1. COPD — Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  2. Dehydration
  3. Emphysema
  4. Heart failure
  5. Kidney cancer
  6. Liver cancer
  7. Living at a high altitude, where there's less oxygen in the air
  8. Other types of heart disease
  9. Other types of lung disease
  10. Polycythemia vera
  11. Smoking, which may result in low blood oxygen levels

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Feb. 05, 2013