Certain long-term medical conditions can cause anemia. Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low, the body does not get enough oxygen.
Anyone with one of the conditions listed above may be at risk. There is a higher risk for it among the elderly.
Anemia often develops slowly. There may be few or no symptoms. Most symptoms are mild but may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Blood tests will show how many RBCs you have and how healthy they are. A diagnosis can be made based on blood tests and your health history.
Anemia may improve if the underlying disease is treated.
may be needed if the anemia is severe. It will supply healthy RBCs from a donor.
Medicine may also be used to encourage the growth of RBCs. This group of medicine is called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). This medicine may not be an option because of side effects. It can make some cancers worse.
It is not clear how to prevent this anemia. Managing some chronic conditions may reduce the risk of anemia.
Explore anemia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/anemia. Updated May 18, 2012. Accessed September 13, 2019.
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Last reviewed September 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 8/5/2020
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