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Book contents

35 - Anemia and Other Hematological Problems of the Elderly

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2010

Christine Arenson
Affiliation:
Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia
Jan Busby-Whitehead
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Kenneth Brummel-Smith
Affiliation:
Florida State University
James G. O'Brien
Affiliation:
University of Louisville, Kentucky
Mary H. Palmer
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
William Reichel
Affiliation:
Georgetown University, Washington DC
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Summary

GENERAL OVERVIEW OF ANEMIA IN THE ELDERLY

Definition of Anemia

The word anemia is derived from the Greek language and means “bloodlessness” (an = not; haimia = blood). In 1968, the World Health Organization defined anemia as hemoglobin of less than 13 g/dL in males and hemoglobin less than 12 g/dL in females. Those values are widely used for epidemiological studies. These thresholds may not reliably delineate high and low risks of adverse outcomes in elderly patients. In fact, improved overall health measures generally appear to correlate with higher hemoglobin levels, up to the level of approximately 14 g/dL. Increased risk of mortality and functional impairment in women 65 and older was associated with hemoglobin levels of 13.5 g/dL and lower.

Epidemiology of Anemia in Aging Population

The prevalence of anemia in community-dwelling persons increases with age. In persons between 61 and 75 years of age, the prevalence of anemia is between 8% and 15%. Beyond age 75, the prevalence varies from 16% to 26%. In a group of nearly 4,000 adults older than the age of 70 years, anemia was present in 9% of those aged 71–74 years and in 41% of men and 21% of women older than the age of 90. The prevalence of anemia is even higher in residents in long-term care, affecting 31.4%–49% of nursing home residents.

Aging of the Population

Population aging, the process by which older individuals become a proportionally larger share of the total population, was one of the most distinctive demographic events of the twentieth century.

Type
Chapter
Information
Reichel's Care of the Elderly
Clinical Aspects of Aging
, pp. 380 - 391
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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