Hemolysis is the destruction of red blood cells. Hemolysis can occur due to different causes and leads to the release of hemoglobin into the bloodstream. Normal red blood cells (erythrocytes) have a lifespan of about 120 days. After they die they break down and are removed from the circulation by the spleen. In some medical conditions, or as a result of taking certain medications, this breakdown of red blood cells is increased. Red cells may break down due to mechanical damage, such as from artificial heart valves or heart-lung bypass; or they may be destroyed due to defects in the cells themselves. Medications that have been associated with hemolysis include acetaminophen, penicillin, and other pain medications. Hemolytic anemia is the term used to refer to anemia caused by the excess destruction of red blood cells.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Causes of Hemolysis
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection. Symptoms and signs of AIDS include pneumonia due to Pneumocystis jiroveci,...
Alpha thalassemia is a disorder in which the alpha globin protein is underproduced. There are two pairs of genes that carry the...
Beta Thalassemia is the most familiar type of thalassemia. Thalassemia is not just one disease but rather a complex series of...
Cancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and...
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that is spread from person to person via spit, semen, vaginal secretions, urine, blood, sexual...
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a common cause of mononucleosis (viral pharyngitis). Symptoms and signs of an EBV infection...
G6PD deficiency (Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase) leads to a condition called hemolytic anemia. Causes of G6PD deficiency is an...
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a diseases in which blood clots within the capillaries. Causes associated with HUS...
Hepatitis (Viral Hepatitis, A, B, C, D, E, G)
Hepatitis is most often viral, due to infection with one of the hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, E, F (not confirmed), and G) or...
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Symptoms and signs...
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells in which the growth and development of the blood cells are abnormal. Strictly...
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease....
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, a vital part of the body's immune system. Symptoms and signs include...
Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms and signs include cough, fever, shortness...
Preeclampsia (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension)
Preeclampsia is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia typically begins after the...
Sickle Cell Disease (Sickle Cell Anemia)
Sickle cell anemia (sickle cell disease), a blood disease which shortens life expectancy, is cause by an inherited abnormal...
Other Causes of Hemolysis
- Artificial Heart Valves
- Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
- Bacterial Infections
- Heart-Lung Bypass Machine
- HELLP Syndrome
- Hereditary Elliptocytosis
- Hereditary Spherocytosis
- Malignant Hypertension
- Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
- Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
- Transfusion Reaction
- Wiscott-Aldridge Syndrome