Anemia Study and Older Adults

A study recent study in the Netherlands of 85 year old inhabitants of a single community was done to determine if anemia alone was a predictor of death. Although a variety of conditions have a tendency to accompany anemia it may be an independent indicator of decreased functional state and risk for death. According to Web MD anemia is the most common blood condition in the United States.

Classification of Anemia

Anemia is a medical condition where the blood lacks normal concentrations of Red Blood cells (hemoglobin) which are necessary for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Anemia is measured by taking a blood sample and observing the number of red blood cells. Another measurement involves determining how much of the total blood consists of red blood cells. These two measurements commonly are used to diagnose anemia. Red blood cells normally live for about 120 days and are constantly being replaced by cells manufactured in the bone marrow. For the purposes of this study anemia was divided into two main categories, prevalent and incidental or new-onset.

Symptoms of Inadequate Red Blood Cells

Symptoms of anemia include generalized weakness and tiredness due to the lack of oxygen available to the muscles and brain for optimal functioning. When visiting your physician it is important to take time in advance to compile a complete written list of your symptoms to assist with the diagnostic process.

Causes of Anemia

The study participants were evaluated for the presence of anemia annually along with any other known illnesses, disability, and mental status. Anemia is the result of the loss of red blood cells more rapidly than they are produced. This may involve the loss of blood or the inability to produce adequate numbers. Conditions that commonly result in anemia include bleeding, inflammatory disease, many forms of cancer and chemotherapy, and kidney disease.

Treatment for Low Hemoglobin

Treatment for seriously anemic conditions may involve transfusion of red blood cells. More commonly your physician may encourage you to eat a diet high in iron content such as meat, eggs, and whole grain products. In addition vitamin B-12 shots may be indicated along with some medications specifically to stimulate the production of red cells.

If the cause is blood loss then the treatment requires determination of the origin of the loss and correction of the condition.

The study referenced earlier in this article illustrates the significance of adequate nutrition and identification of the cause of tiredness or weakness which may indicate anemia as anemia was shown to increase risk of death even in the absence of other factors.