Sedimentation rate (sed rate): What does it mean?

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Elevated sed rate: What does it mean?

Question

What does it mean if you have an elevated sed rate?

Leanore
Florida

Answer

Sedimentation rate — also referred to as sed rate or erythrocyte sedimentation rate — measures the speed at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a glass tube. The presence of certain abnormal proteins in the blood can cause red blood cells to stick together and sink to the bottom more quickly.

An elevated sed rate is not specific to any one disease. Possible causes include:

  • Infection
  • Inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
  • Blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma
  • Cancer that has spread (metastasized)

An elevated sed rate may indicate an underlying problem. But further testing is needed to identify the cause of the problem.

Last Updated: 02/23/2008
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