Definition of Hemoglobin

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Definition of Hemoglobin
• Description of Hemoglobin
• Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Hemoglobin

Definition of Hemoglobin

Hemoglobin is the iron-carrying protein found in red blood cells that binds to oxygen.

Description of Hemoglobin

Hemoglobin is a crystallizable, conjugated protein consisting of an iron-containing pigment (called heme or hematin) and a simple protein, globin. In the lungs, it combines readily with oxygen to form a loose, unstable compound called oxyhemoglobin, a process called oxygenation. In the tissues of the body, where oxygen tension is low and carbon dioxide tension is high, oxyhemoglobin liberates its oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide. The composition of the globin chain can vary, giving rise to several normal and abnormal forms of hemoglobin. The amount of hemoglobin in the blood averages between 12 and 16 grams/100 milliliters of blood in adult females, about 14 and 18 in males, and somewhat less in children. Function

The principal function of hemoglobin is to combine and transport oxygen from the lungs following inhalation, and then deliver it to all body tissues, where it is required to provide energy for the chemical reactions of all living cells. Carbon dioxide (produced as the waste product of these reactions) is transported to the lungs in the blood and is then released when we exhale. Anemia (also see Health Profile: Anemia)

Defects in hemoglobin production may be either genetic in origin (for example, sickle cell anemia) or acquired. Anemia is a general term referring to a shortage of red blood cells or a reduction in hemoglobin. If anemia is suspected, a simple blood test can be taken to detect a shortage of red blood cells or hemoglobin. Any adult who has a hemoglobin content of less than 12 grams/100ml blood in women, and less than 13.5 grams/100 ml in men, is diagnosed as having anemia. A specific diagnosis is necessary because each type of anemia has a different cause and therefore, a...
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