Interpreting Medical Check-Up Results: Red Blood Cells, White Blood Cells and Platelets

Sunday 19 February 2012

When you collect your medical check-up results, you see many acronyms and ranges of numbers, right? It can get very confusing. Even after careful explanation by the doctor, some of us are still confused or tend to forget. If you wonder what they all mean, read on for a simple summary.

Measurements of the Components of Red Blood Cells (RBC)

1. RBC (erythrocyte). Counts the number of RBC we have per litre of our blood plasma.
Normal range:
Male: 4.3 to 6.2 million cells per microliter
Female and children: 3.8 to 5.5 million cells per microliter

2. Hb (haemoglobin). Measures the amount of Hb in our blood. Hb is the component that carries oxygen in our RBC and gives our blood its red colour. A low Hb means you have anaemia.
Normal range:
Male: 13.2 to 16.2 grams per deciliter
Female: 12.0 to 15.2 grams per deciliter

3. Hct (haematocrit). Ratio of the volume of red cells to our whole blood. Lowered haematocrit can imply significant haemorrhage.
Normal range:
Male: 40% to 52%
Female: 37% to 46%

4. MCV (mean corpuscular volume). This is the average volume (size) of our red blood cell. A high MCV may signify the presence of a disease such as megaloblastic anaemia (big RBC).

5. MCH (mean corpuscular haemoglobin). This is the average amount of Hb in our RBC. A low measurement signifies anaemia.

6. MCHC (mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration). This measures the average concentration of Hb in a volume of RBC.
Normal range: 32% to 36%

Measurement of the Components of White Blood Cells (WBC) and Platelets

1. WBC (leukocyte). Counts the number of WBC we have per litre of our blood plasma. A significantly high WBC count can signify infection or suffering from certain types of blood diseases.
Normal range: 4.1 to 10.9 million cells per microliter 

2. WBC differential count.
Normal ratios:
Polymorphonuclear neutrophil cells: 35% to 80%. High level may signify bacterial infection.
Bands (Immature Polys): 0 to 10%
Lymphocytes: 20% to 50%. High level may signify viral infection.
Monocytes: 2% to 12%
Eosinophils: 0 to 7%. High level may signify allergic reaction or parasite infestation.
Basophils: 0 to 2%

3. Platelets (fragments of a cell called megakaryocyte). This measures our platelets in a volume of our  blood. They help in our blood clotting process as the front-liners to repair a wound. Low level may signify certain disease like dengue fever.
Normal range: 140 to 450 thousand cells per microliter.

Low RBC, WBC and platelets together may mean a viral illness or acute myeloid leukaemia.

(Source: Understanding Test Results by Dr YLM, Star2, 14 December 2011)

Hence, it is important to understand our medical check-up results, so that we can take the appropriate action in a prompt manner to address any potential problem before it worsens.
Email me at if you have any questions.