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 Anemia

 Anemia Fact:  Anemia is a broad term used to describe a drop in a person's blood counts, usually measured by testing one's hemoglobin and hematocrit. 


Anemia, also spelled anaemia and anĉmia; from Ancient Greek anaimia, meaning lack of blood) is a decrease in number of red blood cells (RBCs) or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. However, it can include decreased oxygen-binding ability of each hemoglobin molecule due to deformity or lack in numerical development as in some other types of hemoglobin deficiency.

Because hemoglobin (found inside RBCs) normally carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, anemia leads to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in organs. Because all human cells depend on oxygen for survival, varying degrees of anemia can have a wide range of clinical consequences.

Anemia is the most common disorder of the blood. There are several kinds of anemia, produced by a variety of underlying causes. Anemia can be classified in a variety of ways, based on the morphology of RBCs, underlying etiologic mechanisms, and discernible clinical spectra, to mention a few. The three main classes of anemia include excessive blood loss (acutely such as a hemorrhage or chronically through low-volume loss), excessive blood cell destruction (hemolysis) or deficient red blood cell production (ineffective hematopoiesis).

There are two major approaches: the "kinetic" approach which involves evaluating production, destruction and loss, and the "morphologic" approach which groups anemia by red blood cell size. The morphologic approach uses a quickly available and low cost lab test as its starting point (the MCV). On the other hand, focusing early on the question of production may allow the clinician to more rapidly expose cases where multiple causes of anemia coexist.

  Related Topics

 

       
  Anemia Listings

Anemia Lifeline - comprehensive information on diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment of anemia

Anemia - information provided by Medline Plus

Cooley's Anemia Foundation - information specific to the fight against thalassemia

American Sickle Cell Anemia Association - information on diagnosis, treatment, and research of sickle cell anemia

Anemia Institute - home for research and information on anemia

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