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Anaemia raises hospitalisation risk in elderly

Anaemia is associated with an increased risk for hospitalisation and death in older adults.

Anaemia raises hospitalisation risk in elderly

Anaemia is associated with an increased risk for hospitalisation and death in older adults.Anaemia occurs when there is a drop in the blood's ability to carry oxygen, because of a deficiency of red blood cells or their oxygen-carrying component, haemoglobin. Two main causes of anaemia are lack of iron in the diet or blood loss, perhaps from internal bleeding. Researchers from the University of Calgary, Alberta found that the identification of anaemia in older individuals is a flag for adverse health outcomes. Physicians should use their clinical and decision-making skills to search for reversible factors responsible for the anaemia.

The researchers used information from Calgary databases to investigate whether there was a relationship between anaemia and hospitalisation and death. They analysed more than 17,000 adults 66 years of age and older. The group was followed from 2001 to the end of 2004, during which time there were 1983 deaths and 7278 hospitalisations for the first time.The overall death rate was 5-fold higher among individuals with anaemia. The findings were similar when only individuals over 80 years old were included in the analysis. Anaemia was also associated with nearly a 3-fold increased risk of hospitalisation.

The findings suggest that consideration should be given to redefine normal haemoglobin values in the elderly.
Blood,
July 2006
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