HVS Definition and Meaning

According to abbreviationfinder, HVS stands for hyperviscosity syndrome. Hyperviscosity syndrome is a clinical symptom complex. In many cases, the syndrome is simply referred to by the abbreviation HVS. The cause of the hyperviscosity syndrome lies in an increased concentration of so-called paraproteins in the plasma of the blood. As a result of the increased viscosity, the blood’s ability to flow decreases, which can lead to a large number of complications in the organism.

What is Hyperviscosity Syndrome?

Hyperviscosity syndrome is usually diagnosed during a blood test. The increased concentration of paraproteins can be detected in a so-called serum electrophoresis.

The main feature of hyperviscosity syndrome is increased blood viscosity. Basically, the viscosity of the blood depends on the concentration of the paraproteins that are dissolved in the plasma. Their chemical and physical properties have a direct effect on the viscosity and thus the flowability of the blood.

Hyperviscosity syndrome as a result of increased paraproteins in the plasma occurs in a number of malignant diseases. These include Waldenstrom’s disease and what is known as multiple myeloma. In addition, hyperviscosity syndrome also occurs in some benign diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Felty’s syndrome and lupus erythematosus.

Hyperviscosity syndrome occurs in nearly ten percent of multiple myeloma cases and up to 30 percent of all cases of Waldenstrom’s disease.


To understand the causes of hyperviscosity syndrome, some basics about blood viscosity are important. In principle, this depends on a large number of different factors. The most influential are the plasma viscosity, the hematocrit and the deformability of the red blood cells. Deviations of one or more of these factors from normal values ​​lead to changes in blood viscosity.

For example, plasma viscosity is increased in multiple myeloma. Typical of multiple myeloma is the detection of atypical blood proteins or paraproteins. Possible symptoms include spontaneous fractures, renal insufficiency in the presence of a plasmacytoma kidney, and hyperviscosity syndrome.

This occurs frequently in cerebral circulatory disorders and neurological failures. The hematocrit is increased, for example, in a so-called dehydration and influences the blood viscosity. Exsiccosis describes the dehydration of the body. It occurs when fluid intake is too low compared to elimination. The deformability of the red blood cells or erythrocytes is increased, for example, in the context of sickle cell anemia.

This is a form of anemia caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells. A specific pathological hemoglobin causes red blood cells to deform when oxygen saturation is low. As a result, severe circulatory disorders occur in organs and body tissue.

Sickle cell anemia can be fatal. If the blood viscosity is increased, in most cases circulatory disorders occur in the so-called terminal flow areas of the vascular system. As a result, tissue and organs are less supplied with blood, whereby the circulatory disorders depend on the severity of the increase in viscosity.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Hyperviscosity syndrome can present with a wide variety of symptoms and complaints, which vary from patient to patient. They depend on the type of increase in viscosity and the severity of the disease. Some organs, such as the heart, kidneys and brain, are very sensitive to circulatory disorders.

Functional restrictions of the corresponding organs are often the result. Shortness of breath, neurological deficits, renal and cardiac insufficiency are therefore common in the early stages. Typical marks can also appear on the skin, the so-called livedo reticularis. The risk of thrombosis and embolism increases as a result of the slowed blood flow.

In bedridden patients in particular, the likelihood of such complications increases. In general, numerous affected patients complain of a general feeling of weakness, loss of appetite, tiredness and shortness of breath. Anemia can develop as a result of bleeding from the mucous membrane and nose, since platelet function is disrupted. Nosebleeds and bleeding of the oral mucosa occur as a result of the disturbed blood clotting.

The bleeding time after injuries is also longer than usual. Typical symptoms of the central nervous system are dizziness and headaches, drowsiness up to coma and epileptic seizures. Sensitivity disorders are also possible. Sometimes those affected complain of visual disturbances. Hearing loss can occur as part of hyperviscosity syndrome. Angina pectoris sometimes develops in the heart.

Diagnosis & course of disease

Hyperviscosity syndrome is usually diagnosed during a blood test. First, the treating specialist discusses the individual medical history with the patient. Symptoms that occur provide information about the disease and its severity.

The increased concentration of paraproteins can be detected in a so-called serum electrophoresis. Blood viscosity is measured with a capillary viscometer and shows the increased values. Another indication of hyperviscosity syndrome can also be complications during blood collection, such as blocked cannulas.


Hyperviscosity syndrome causes numerous ailments and complications in the body. The organs and regions in the body that are supplied with blood are particularly affected. This can lead to shortness of breath, which in many patients leads to a panic attack.

Heart problems also occur, so that in the worst case the patient can die of heart failure. The kidneys can also be affected by insufficiency, in which case the person concerned is dependent on dialysis or a donor kidney. The quality of life and life expectancy of the patient is reduced by the hyperviscosity syndrome.

The sufferer suffers from a general feeling of illness and weakness. There is fatigue and loss of appetite. Dizziness and nausea also occur, and it is not uncommon for those affected to faint. The sensitivity of the body is also reduced and loss of vision or hearing can occur. In the worst case, the patient falls into a coma.

Since hyperviscosity syndrome is not a disease in its own right, treatment is usually carried out causally. Acute emergencies can be solved with the help of medication. The complications usually depend on the underlying disease of the hyperviscosity syndrome.

When should you go to the doctor?

People who suffer from circulatory disorders should always consult a doctor. If cold limbs, numbness of the skin, sensory disorders or a feeling of pressure in the vessels occurs, a doctor’s visit is necessary to clarify the symptoms. A doctor should be consulted in the event of digestive disorders, abnormalities when going to the toilet or pain in the upper body.

If there is restricted breathing, shortness of breath or anxiety, the person concerned needs help and support. An irregular heart rhythm, changes in blood pressure, or dizziness need to be evaluated and treated. If you feel generally ill, feel unwell, have unsteady gait or have reduced drive, we recommend that you see a doctor.

If everyday duties can no longer be performed as usual or if the usual level of performance drops, a doctor should be consulted. If skin changes, discolouration or blemishes appear, these should be presented to a doctor. In the case of involuntary itching or open wounds, good medical care is necessary.

There is a risk of further diseases, since pathogens can get into the organism. In the case of inner weakness, tiredness and exhaustion, a doctor should be consulted. If the symptoms persist for a long time, this is considered unusual and in need of treatment. Sleep disorders, reduced muscle strength or irregularities in muscle activity must be examined and treated.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of hyperviscosity syndrome always depends on the cause. In acute cases, it is necessary to dilute the blood using infusions. The further treatment of the viscosity symptoms is usually symptomatic, for example by plasma exchange. A cell separator separates the plasma from the cellular components.

However, plasma exchange is only recommended in emergencies, such as epileptic seizures, coma or heart failure. In order to cure hyperviscosity syndrome, the underlying disease must be treated. The prognosis of the disease also depends on this.


There are no concrete measures to prevent hyperviscosity syndrome. It is all the more important to consult a specialist at the first sign of the disease. Regular blood tests also help to detect the disease at an early stage.


There are no concrete preventive and aftercare measures for hyperviscosity syndrome. Therefore, regular medical check-ups are extremely important. They are designed to help alleviate the symptoms. This also reduces the risk of heart problems. Medical treatment is essential, as there is no self-help as part of aftercare.

Medical therapy is the only way to avoid serious problems that may cause the patient’s death. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment take place, the more likely it is to have a positive outcome. To prevent the syndrome from breaking out, people at risk can avoid impending stressful situations.

Otherwise, there is a risk that they will become unconscious. Then those present must immediately call an ambulance and bring the patient into the stable side position. Involving family members is an important point in this context, because this way they can help in an emergency.

The disease can cause a loss of appetite, which often results in people losing weight and suffering from deficiency symptoms. A consistent and regular diet with balanced meals stabilizes health and counteracts excessive weight loss. The doctor’s recommendations or a fixed meal plan will help.

You can do that yourself

Unfortunately, in most cases of hyperviscosity syndrome, the patient has no options for self-help. For this reason, the syndrome must always be treated by a doctor. Serious complications can thus be avoided, which in the worst case can lead to the death of the patient.

Above all, early diagnosis and treatment has a very positive effect on the further course of the disease. If the patient loses consciousness and faints due to the syndrome, an ambulance must be called. Until the arrival of the emergency doctor, it is important to ensure a stable lateral position and stable breathing. Furthermore, the person concerned should avoid stressful situations. Since hyperviscosity syndrome can also lead to a loss of appetite, those affected should ensure that they eat regularly and, above all, healthy. This can prevent deficiency symptoms and weight loss.

In the case of surgical interventions, the patient should inform the attending physician about the disease in order to avoid profuse bleeding and the complications associated with it. Regular examinations and check-ups by the doctor can also alleviate the symptoms of the syndrome and prevent possible heart problems. The syndrome itself cannot be prevented.

Hyperviscosity Syndrome

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