Health Connect – March 2023
Anaemia happens when one has insufficient red blood cells and/or has red blood cells that are not functioning properly. It is characterized by low haemoglobin levels. This is important because red blood cells and haemoglobin assist in transporting oxygen around the body to allow the tissues to function properly.
The incidence of anaemia in the community also has socio-economic impacts as it affects productivity, physical capacity, health outcomes and more.
● Anaemia due to blood loss
This happens when there is blood loss from the body. For example, through the gastrointestinal/respiratory/urinary tracts (e.g. cancers, inflammatory disease) or through the reproductive system (e.g. heavy menses, intermenstrual bleeding).
● Anaemia due to inadequate/defective cell production
This can be due to nutritional deficiencies (e.g. Vitamin B12/Folate/Iron), inherited conditions, bone marrow disorders, kidney/chronic diseases etc.
● Anaemia due to increased cell destruction
This can be due to autoimmune conditions, drugs, infections, inherited conditions etc.
The treatment of anaemia is dependent on the underlying cause. The first step is to always ensure that the patient is clinically stable. The subsequent work-up is very important as well to determine the treatment plan. The investigations of choice depend greatly on the patient’s history, comorbidities, risk factors and clinical findings.