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What does an abnormal MCH reading indicate?

Howard E. Lewine, MD
Hospitalist
Your MCH reading likely has no bearing on your health.

The laboratory report of a complete blood count (CBC) includes information about red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

The details about red blood cells are reported as follows:
  • Hematocrit (Hct) This is the percent of your blood sample that are red blood cells. (The rest is plasma).
  • Hemoglobin (Hgb) This is the amount of the oxygen-carrying protein in 100 milliliters of blood.
  • Red blood cell count (RBC count) This is the number of red blood cells in one milliliter of blood.
  • Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) This is the average size of your red blood cells.
  • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) This is the average amount of hemoglobin in each red blood cell.
  • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) This is the average amount of hemoglobin relative to the average size of red blood cells.
Hematocrit and hemoglobin are the two most important values. For an adult woman, a hematocrit less than 36 or a hemoglobin level less than 12 indicates anemia. For a man, the numbers are 39 and 13.

The other values related to red blood cells are most helpful when a person is anemic. For example, a normal MCH is 27 – 31. However, a number slightly higher than 31 is perfectly fine if your hematocrit and hemoglobin are normal.

MCH is used primarily to help determine if someone has iron deficiency anemia. In that case, the MCH tends to be low, not high like yours.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.