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Blood disorders

What are blood disorders and how do they affect your health?

Blood plays an important part in keeping our bodies healthy, but when there is a problem, it can affect our overall health. Blood is made up of four components — plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets — each with its own specific job.

  • Plasma: Transports nutritients to various parts of the body.
  • Red blood cells: Carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • White blood cells: Defend the body against infections.
  • Platelets: Help blood to clot.

Blood disorders are caused by abnormalities found in one or more of the components. A few of the common blood disorders are:

  • Anemia: A low number of red blood cells.
  • Leukemia: The white blood cells become cancerous and multiply inside the bone marrow.
  • Lymphoma: The white blood cells become cancerous and spread.
  • Multiple myeloma: The white blood cells become cancerous, multiply, and release damaging substances.
  • Sickle cell anemia: A genetic condition that occurs when the red blood cells are sticky and stiff, blocking the flow of blood.

If you are diagnosed with a blood disorder, your doctor will refer you to a hematologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of blood disorders.

Additional health and wellness information

If you're a Highmark member, you have access to a secure, members-only website. Here you will find more information about blood disorders. To access the website, select the service region noted on your member ID card. After logging in, select the "Wellness" tab. Type "blood disorders" in the search field.