Your red blood cell width can be an accurate predictor of the severity and mortality of some diseases.

The standard Complete Blood Count (CBC) blood test that many of us get routinely can predict the severity and mortality of certain diseases, COVID-19 being one of them.

CBC Blood Test

One of the tests performed when a patient enters a hospital is a standard CBC blood test. Red cell distribution width (RDW) is one of the tests and categorizes your red blood cells by size (width).

Decades ago, this test was used almost exclusively for diagnosing iron deficiency. Over time, health scientists noted that elevated RDW showed declining health in patients with heart failure, cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, and other respiratory diseases.

A recent story published in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) stated that RDW can predict the severity and mortality of hospitalized adults with SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19). Monitoring RDW during hospitalization confirmed that changes in RDW width aligned well with the degradation of the patient’s symptoms and potential mortality.

RDW During Hospitalization

RDW appears now to be a good biomarker for predicting the future health of COVID-19 patients.
Study results from the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School have further confirmed the value of RDW as an accurate predictor of future health for patients with inflammatory diseases.

Biomarkers for COVID-19 Severity

Our bodies produced biomarkers when inflammation increases. One of these tests is the c-reactive protein (CRP) test. I always order it for my annual physical. It is not normally included with most annual physicals. My annual physical last week showed a CRP value of 0.2 mg/L. The closer to zero your CRP result is the less inflammation you have in your body.

CRP will not tell you where the inflammation is coming from but does tell you that there is a problem causing the increase in inflammation in the body. Usually, CRP results of 10.0 mg/L and under are of no concern. Please consider talking to your physician about adding this test at your next annual physical.

CRP, along with D-dimer, IL-6, LDH, and ferritin, is used currently to assess COVID-19 patients.
The study stated that the mortality risk was 11 percent among patients with normal RDW readings. However, the death risk increased to 31 percent in patients with elevated RDW levels.


RDW has been useful in predicting health trends in patients with a variety of diseases. Interest has been generated recently by using this routine blood test as an accurate predictor for COVID-19 severity and mortality. Studies are continuing.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


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