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Haemoglobin Electrophoresis is a blood test, and requires a few millilitres of blood from a vein. The test itself uses a method of determining the type and size of haemoglobin molecules in the blood, by observing the rates of transit of these negatively-charged proteins in an electric field medium.
Haemoglobin Electrophoresis is usually performed in the setting of a microcytic anaemia – a low blood count where the red blood cells are also small. Possible causes of a microcytic anaemia include iron deficiency and Thalassaemia (or thalassaemia trait) – a condition in which the globin chains of the haemoglobin molecule are defective. Anaemia causes tiredness, pale skin, and shortness of breath on exertion.
Haemoglobin Electrophoresis results quantify the proportions of different variants of haemoglobin found in an individual's blood cells. The normal adult haemoglobin is Haemoglobin A (HbA), but normal people also have a small amount of Fetal Haemoglobin (HbF). Electrophoresis can also detect abnormal haemoglobins such as Haemoglobin S (HbS) – which is responsible for the condition Sickle Cell Disease.
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