Anemia

What is Anemia and Why is it Important to Blood Management?

To further prevent the need for a blood transfusion, patients who are scheduled for surgery undergo blood management at least one month prior to surgery. A blood draw allows us to screen for and treat anemia before surgery. Anemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells, or their oxygen-carrying capacity (hemoglobin), is insufficient to meet physiologic needs. There are different kinds of anemia and each type is treated differently.

Symptoms

Symptoms often start slowly, so you may not even notice them at first. But they get worse as the hemoglobin gets lower. These symptoms can include:
  • Fast heart beat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble breathing when doing things like walking, climbing stairs or even talking
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling in the hands and/or feet
  • Pale skin, nail beds, mouth and gums
  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)

Causes

Iron deficiency is thought to be the most common cause of anemia globally, although other conditions, such as folate​, vitamin B12 and vitamin A deficiencies, chronic inflammation, parasitic infections and inherited disorders can all cause anemia.
  • Iron deficiency: The most common cause of anemia is not having enough iron. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency: Anemia also occurs when your body doesn't have enough folic acid or vitamin B12 to make red blood cells.
  • Blood loss: If you have an injury or surgery, you may lose enough blood to cause anemia. 
  • Poor red blood cell production: Some long-term diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease​, or certain medications can affect your body’s ability to make red blood cells.
  • Kidney disease: Erythropoietin is a hormone that tells the bone marrow to make red blood cells. Healthy kidneys make erythropoietin. If you have kidney disease, you do not make enough of this hormone to make red blood cells. 
  • Cancer: Certain types of cancer cause anemia by slowing down your body’s production of erythropoietin. Sometimes the cancer won’t let your body use its own iron to make hemoglobin. 
  • Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy and radiation​ can also cause anemia by damaging the bone marrow. This damage may prevent your body from making red blood cells.