Red blood cells normally live for 110 to 120 days. After that, they naturally break down and are usually removed from the circulation by the spleen.
Some diseases and processes cause red blood cells to break down too soon. This requires the bone marrow to make more red blood cells than normal. The balance between red blood cell breakdown and production determines how low the red blood cell count becomes.
Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.