- The Disease
- Diagnosis & Screening
Anaemia is a common condition characterized by an abnormally low red blood cell count. When a person is anaemic, there are too few red blood cells circulating in the bloodstream because they are being lost or destroyed too quickly, produced too slowly or are deformed or defective.
As a result, the blood cannot effectively transport the oxygen inhaled from the lungs to the tissues of the body. The main symptom of anaemia is extreme fatigue. As well as feeling very tired for long periods, patients may notice shortness of breath when climbing stairs or palpitations.
Diagnosis & Screening
Regular blood tests can help detect anaemia early and ensure treatment is initiated as soon as possible. People with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other possible symptoms of anaemia, including extreme tiredness, should speak to their doctor.
Anaemia is diagnosed using a test that measures the level of haemoglobin – the protein in red blood cells that binds oxygen and colours blood red – in the blood. A person is considered to be anaemic if their haemoglobin level is below 11 g/dL.
Normal levels of haemoglobin are 12–16 grams per decilitre(g/dL) of blood in healthy women and 14–18 g/dL in men.
Patients with renal anaemia can be treated with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). Treatment with these agents stimulates the bone marrow to produce new blood cells when the patient is unable to produce sufficient amount of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO). to stimulate that production itself.
Types of ESAs:
• Recombinant human epoetin alfa and beta – the shorter-acting epos for the treatment of renal anaemia in patients with impaired kidney function or chronic kidney failure.
• Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activators (CERA) – the longer acting ESA that works in a different way to the shorter-acting ESAs. These agents allow for the continuous stimulation of erythropoiesis. This inturns allows for a more stable Hb levels maintained over a longer time.
Among the other treatments for different types of anaemia are supplements for anaemia caused by a deficiency of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid. Blood transfusions are also given to patients with life-threatening anaemia after major blood loss.