«Anemia is a decrease in the total amount of red blood cell (RBC) or hemoglobin in the blood, or a lowered ability of the blood to carry oxygen. When anemia comes on slowly, the symptoms are often vague and may include feeling tired, weakness, shortness of breath or a poor ability to exercise. Anemia that comes on quickly often has greater symptoms, which may include confusion, feeling like one is going to pass out, loss of consciousness, or increased thirst. Anemia must be significant before a person becomes noticeably pale. Additional symptoms may occur depending on the underlying cause.
The three main types of anemia are due to blood loss, decreased red blood cell production, and increased red blood cell breakdown. Causes of blood loss include trauma and gastrointestinal bleeding, among others. Causes of decreased production include iron deficiency, a lack of vitamin B12, thalassemia, and a number of neoplasms of the bone marrow. Causes of increased breakdown include a number of genetic conditions such as sickle cell anemia, infections like malaria, and certain autoimmune diseases. It can also be classified based on the size of red blood cell and amount of hemoglobin in each cell. If the cell are small, it is microcytic anemia. If they are large, it is macrocytic anemia while if they are normal sized, it is normocytic anemia. Diagnosis in men is based on a hemoglobin of less than 130 to 140 g/L (13 to 14 g/dL), while in women, it must be less than 120 to 130 g/L (12 to 13 g/dL). Further testing is then required to determine the cause.
Certain groups of individuals, such as pregnant women, benefit from the use of iron pills for prevention.Dietary supplementation, without determining the specific cause, is not recommended. The use of blood transfusion is typically based on a person's signs and symptoms. In those without symptoms, they are not recommended unless hemoglobin levels are less than 60 to 80 g/L (6 to 8 g/dL). These recommendations may also apply to some people with acute bleeding.Erythropoiesis-stimulating medications are only recommended in those with severe anemia.
Anemia is the most common blood disorder, affecting about a third of the global population.Iron-deficiency anemia affects nearly 1 billion people. In 2013, anemia due to iron deficiency resulted in about 183,000 deaths – down from 213,000 deaths in 1990. It is more common in women than men, during pregnancy, and in children and the elderly. Anemia increases costs of medical care and lowers a person's productivity through a decreased ability to work. The name is derived from Ancient Greek: ἀναιμίαanaimia, meaning "lack of blood", from ἀν- an-, "not" and αἷμα haima, "blood".
Anemia goes undetected in many people and symptoms can be minor. The symptoms can be related to an underlying cause or the anemia itself. Most commonly, people with anemia report feelings of weakness or fatigue, and sometimes poor concentration. They may also report shortness of breath on exertion. In very severe anemia, the body may compensate for the lack of oxygen-carrying capability of the blood by increasing cardiac output. The patient may have symptoms related to this, such as palpitations, angina (if pre-existing heart disease is present), intermittent claudication of the legs, and symptoms of heart failure. On examination, the signs exhibited may include pallor (paleskin, lining mucosa, conjunctiva and nail bed), but this is not a reliable sign. There may be signs of specific causes of anemia, e.g., koilonychia (in iron deficiency), jaundice (when anemia results from abnormal break down of red blood cell — in hemolytic anemia), bone deformities (found in thalassemia major) or legulcers (seen in sickle-cell disease). In severe anemia, there may be signs of a hyperdynamic circulation: tachycardia (a fast heart rate), bounding pulse, flow murmurs, and cardiacventricular hypertrophy (enlargement). There may be signs of heart failure. Pica, the consumption of non-food items such as ice, but also paper, wax, or grass, and even hair or dirt, may be a symptom of iron deficiency, although it occurs often in those who have normal levels of hemoglobin. Chronic anemia may result in behavioral disturbances in children as a direct result of impaired neurological development in infants, and reduced academic performance in children of school age. Restless legs syndrome is more common in those with iron-deficiency anemia.
The causes of anemia may be classified as impaired red blood cell (RBC) production, increased RBC destruction (hemolytic anemias), blood loss and fluid overload (hypervolemia). Several of these may interplay to cause anemia eventually. Indeed, the most common cause of anemia is blood loss, but this usually does not cause any lasting symptoms unless a relatively impaired RBC production develops, in turn most commonly by iron deficiency. (See Iron deficiency anemia)
Anemias of increased red blood cell destruction are generally classified as hemolytic anemias. These are generally featuring jaundice and elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels.[medical citation needed]
The roots of the words anemia and ischemia both refer to the basic idea of "lack of blood", but anemia and ischemia are not the same thing in modern medical terminology. The word anemia used alone implies widespreadeffects from blood that either is too scarce (e.g., blood loss) or is dysfunctional in its oxygen-supplying ability (due to whatever type of hemoglobin or erythrocyte problem). In contrast, the word ischemia refers solely to the lack of blood (poor perfusion). Thus ischemia in a body part can cause localized anemic effects within those tissues.
Fluid overload (hypervolemia) causes decreased hemoglobin concentration and apparent anemia:
Certain gastrointestinal disorders can cause anemia. The mechanisms involved are multifactorial and not limited to malabsorption but mainly related to chronic intestinal inflammation, which causes dysregulation of hepcidin that lead to decreased access of iron to the circulation.
There are a number of definitions of anemia; reviews provide comparison and contrast of them. A strict but broad definition is an absolute decrease in red blood cell mass, however, a broader definition is a lowered ability of the blood to carry oxygen. An operational definition is a decrease in whole-blood hemoglobin concentration of more than 2 standard deviations below the mean of an age- and sex-matched reference range.
It is difficult to directly measure RBC mass, so the hematocrit (amount of RBC) or the hemoglobin (Hb) in the blood are often used instead to indirectly estimate the value. Hemotocrit; however, is concentration dependent and is therefore not completely accurate. For example, during pregnancy a woman's RBC mass is normal but because of an increase in blood volume the hemoglobin and hematocrit are diluted and thus decreased. Another example would be bleeding where the RBC mass would decrease but the concentration of hemoglobin and hematocrit initially remains normal until fluids shift from other areas of the body to the intravascular space.» (wikipedia)
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