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Disease Markers
Volume 2017, Article ID 7089493, 23 pages
Review Article

Red Blood Cell Distribution Width: A Novel Predictive Indicator for Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Diseases

Ning Li,1,2,3 Heng Zhou,1,2,3 and Qizhu Tang1,2,3

1Department of Cardiology, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan 430060, China
2Cardiovascular Research Institute, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430060, China
3Hubei Key Laboratory of Cardiology, Wuhan 430060, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Qizhu Tang; nc.ude.uhw@gnatzq

Received 17 June 2017; Revised 17 July 2017; Accepted 25 July 2017; Published 6 September 2017

Academic Editor: Fabrizia Bamonti

Copyright © 2017 Ning Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The red blood cell distribution width (RDW) obtained from a standard complete blood count (CBC) is a convenient and inexpensive biochemical parameter representing the variability in size of circulating erythrocytes. Over the past few decades, RDW with mean corpuscular volume (MCV) has been used to identify quite a few hematological system diseases including iron-deficiency anemia and bone marrow dysfunction. In recent years, many clinical studies have proved that the alterations of RDW levels may be associated with the incidence and prognosis in many cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases (CVDs). Therefore, early detection and intervention in time of these vascular diseases is critical for delaying their progression. RDW as a new predictive marker and an independent risk factor plays a significant role in assessing the severity and progression of CVDs. However, the mechanisms of the association between RDW and the prognosis of CVDs remain unclear. In this review, we will provide an overview of the representative literatures concerning hypothetical and potential epidemiological associations between RDW and CVDs and discuss the underlying mechanisms.