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.
Ganz T. Anemia of Inflammation. N Engl J Med 2019; 381:1148-1157.
Nemeth E, Ganz T. Anemia of inflammation. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2014 Aug;28(4):671-81
Weiss G, Ganz T, Goodnough LT. Anemia of inflammation. Blood. 2019 Jan 3;133(1):40-50.
Last reviewed September 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 9/13/2019
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.