PCV or Packed Cell Volume test analyzes the levels and proportions of red blood cells in your bloodstream. Since our red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to each part of the body (including the vital organs), keeping a check on its dispersed availability in the body is crucial.

PCV test is alternatively termed the hematocrit test in medical terminologies. It is a simple and routine blood test that’s completely safe and is assessed as part of the Complete Blood Count (CBC) test of a patient.

This article will explore more about what PCV is in blood tests and how you can interpret the results.

What is a PCV test?

The PCV or hematocrit test, as mentioned, is a routine blood test that measures and analyzes the proportion and availability of red blood cells in the body.

Drastically differential levels of the red blood cells (too high or too low) indicate underlying health complications that need further testing for a comprehensive diagnosis. The test is a key marker for diagnosing two alarming chronic conditions, including anemia or polycythemia.

Depending on the reports of the PCV test, your doctor might assess the need for a current or future blood transfusion to ensure the optimal health of the patient.

The PCV is directly proportional to the availability of the red blood cells. If the proportions of red blood cells increase, so will the levels of PCV and vice versa.

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Why is a PCV test necessary?

Simply knowing what is PCV/HCT in a blood test isn’t enough. For a more comprehensive understanding, one needs to know the significance of the test.

When and why should you get a PCV test? The primary objective of a PCV or hematocrit test is to analyze a suspected medical condition and monitor the aligned treatment for the same.

Complications related to red blood cell production, autoimmune disorders, bone marrow disorders, anemia, etc., often require a PCV report for further treatment regimen.

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How do you prepare for a PCV test?

The PCV test is a routine blood test, so there isn’t much for which you have to prepare. Also, there aren’t any specific dietary restrictions associated with the test. You don’t need to fast before giving the blood sample for testing.

During the test, a phlebotomist will draw the sample from the vein in your arm. The site where the injection is inserted is thoroughly prepped with alcohol to reduce the possibilities or risks of infections in the future.

Once the sample is collected, it is sent to the laboratory for further testing for the final reports.

What are the Normal PCV Test Reports?

Once you know the meaning of PCV in blood tests, the next factor worth noting is the normal range of this test.

The normal range of the PCV test is between 35.5 to 48.6 percent. The range for men is between 38.3 to 48.6 percent, and for women, it is 35.5 to 44.9 percent.

Moreover, the accuracy of the test results can be hindered by certain external and environmental factors like:

  • Pregnancy
  • Living in higher altitudes
  • History of blood transfusion
  • Dehydration
  • Blood loss due to trauma or injury, etc.

Keeping that in mind, you can then assess what is PCV HCT in blood tests and what the high and low levels mean in the test reports.

Test Reports Range Possible Risks
High PCV Levels A level over 48.6 percent. -Dehydration

Polycythemia vera

-Lung disease

-Heart disease

Low PCV Levels A level below 35.5 percent. -Anemia



-Vitamin deficiency

-Mineral deficiency

-Blood loss

-Inflammatory diseases


-Liver cirrhosis

-Cancer treatment side-effects


-Kidney disease


Always discuss the reports with a doctor to understand why the levels are abnormal in your case. In case there are any underlying complications, your doctor might prescribe further tests to reach a conclusive diagnosis.


  • What happens if PCV is low?

Low PCV levels can be indicative of several underlying complications in the body. However, your doctor will assess your symptoms and prescribe further testing to analyze what’s triggering the low levels in your case.

  • What is the normal range of PCV?

The normal range of PCV is between 35.5 to 48.6 percent in a healthy adult.

  • Why is the PCV test done?

The PCV test is done to find underlying complications associated with the availability and proportions of red blood cells in the body.


We hope by now you have a good idea of what PCV means in blood tests and its significance. The test is done as a part of the complete blood count to assess and monitor the health of your red blood cells in the body. Abnormal PCV levels can indicate several underlying conditions that require further testing for a conclusive diagnosis. If your reports are not normal, consult a doctor to find out why.

Prekshi Garg is a young, dynamic, energetic, and meritorious professional biotechnologist. She is a merit rank holder in her post-graduation and a skilled bioinformatician with great zeal to do her best in neurosciences. She is currently working in the area of Neurotranscritomics dealing with neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. She has presented many papers at different scientific forums and is awarded ‘Representing the Institution in Scientific Events’ citation by Amity University Uttar Pradesh and Top position in Student Assistantship Program held at Amity University in addition to awards won for oral presentations in different scientific deliberations. Prekshi has published a good number of papers and book chapters during the start of her academic career itself. Her tremendous skills and knowledge make her a good blend of biotechnology and bioinformatics.

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