Anemia is the primary reason a blood transfusion is given. Preventing, detecting, and treating anemia are the most important factors to avoid the need for a blood transfusion and maintain optimum health.
What is Anemia?
Anemia is a below-normal level of hemoglobin in the blood. As a result of anemia, the blood cannot deliver enough oxygen to the rest of the body, causing fatigue and other symptoms. The most common form of anemia is iron deficiency anemia, although there are many other causes of anemia.
Symptoms of Anemia
||Coldness in hands and feet
|Shortness of breath
||Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Know Your Risk
Studies reveal that 34 percent1 to 45.6 percent2 of patients have pre-operative anemia. Careful monitoring of blood draws, along with pre- and post-surgical anemia management, contributes to the prevention of anemia.
Factors that increase a patient's risk of anemia
|Poor diet low in iron, vitamins, and minerals
||Being over age 65
||Being a woman of childbearing age
||Being an infant younger than two years
|Family history of inherited anemia (e.g., sickle cell anemia, thalassemia)
||Blood loss (e.g., due to surgery or injury, excessive blood draws, heavy menstrual periods)
Know Your Blood Count
A simple blood draw can determine how healthy your blood is.
Normal hemoglobin and hematocrit ranges
||13 -17 g/dL
|| 39 - 51%
||12 - 15 g/dL
||36 - 45%
What You Can Do
Be alert to signs or symptoms of anemia. Ask your doctor to check your blood count. If your doctor says you are anemic, get information about increasing your blood count.
When you are anticipating surgery or having a baby, ask your Swedish physician about an anemia consult through Anemia Clinic at Swedish. An anemia consult is an assessment of your need for treatment of anemia. This consult is performed by a pharmacist. The information from the consult is sent to your doctor so that a treatment plan tailored to your needs can be developed. This key service is a proactive approach to avoiding blood transfusions. It is best to have this evaluation completed 30 days before surgery, if possible, or as early in pregancy as possible, so that any treatment recommend for you will be most effective. Treatments include oral or intravenous medications, nutritional counseling and/or vitamin.
If you are over the age of 50, be sure to get a regular colon screening. This diagnostic procedure is helpful to determine if you have internal bleeding or cancer that may be causing anemia.
National Anemia Action Council
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1. Dunne J, et al., Perioperative anemia: an independent risk factor for infection, mortality, and resource utilization in surgery. J Surg Res. 2002 Feb;102(2):237-44.
2. Gruson KI, Aharonoff GB, Egol KA, et al., The relationship between admission hemoglobin level and outcome after hip fracture. J Orthop Trauma 16 (2002), pp. 39-44.