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Hemolytic Anemia

Hemolytic anemia is a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream before their normal lifespan is over.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Hemolytic Anemia

Hemolytic anemia (HEE-moh-lit-ick uh-NEE-me-uh) is a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream before their normal lifespan is over.

Red blood cells are disc-shaped and look like doughnuts without holes in the center. These cells carry oxygen to your body. They also remove carbon dioxide (a waste product) from your body.

Red blood cells are made in the bone marrow - a sponge-like tissue inside the bones. They live for about 120 days in the bloodstream and then die.

White blood cells and platelets (PLATE-lets) also are made in the bone marrow. White blood cells help fight infections. Platelets stick together to seal small cuts or breaks on blood vessel walls and stop bleeding.

When blood cells die, the body's bone marrow makes more blood cells to replace them. However, in hemolytic anemia, the bone marrow can't make red blood cells fast enough to meet... Read more about Hemolytic Anemia

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Immunoglobulin infusion for isoimmune haemolytic jaundice in neonates

Plain language summary will be included with future review update.

Meta analysis of the effect of immunoglobulin infusion on neonatal isoimmune hemolytic disease caused by blood group incompatibility

OBJECTIVE: Neonatal isoimmune hemolytic disease is still one of the major causes of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. The infants with severe hemolysis even need phototherapy and exchange transfusion. Early intravenous immunoglobulin infusion may block hemolysis to some extent. This study aimed to investigate the efficacy and safety of immunoglobulin infusion on neonatal isoimmune hemolytic disease by meta analysis.

Comparative effectiveness of different types of splenectomy for children with congenital hemolytic anemias

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of different types of splenectomy in children with congenital hemolytic anemias.

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Summaries for consumers

Immunoglobulin infusion for isoimmune haemolytic jaundice in neonates

Plain language summary will be included with future review update.

Blood transfusions for people with sickle cell disease before they undergo surgery

Once they have given up their oxygen, red blood cells in people with sickle cell disease become shaped like crescents. These cells can block blood vessels, which causes problems throughout the body. People with sickle cell disease often need surgery, but this can increase the number of sickle‐shaped cells in the blood. Blood transfusions before an operation can help dilute the sickled red blood cells and increase the level of oxygen in the blood. This reduces the risk of blood vessels becoming blocked causing further damage. Blood transfusions can be full or partial. They can be linked to adverse events such as the development of antibodies to foreign red blood cells, iron overload, infection rates after surgery and length of stay in hospital. Two studies with 920 people are included in the review. One study compared full transfusion to partial transfusion. This showed no difference between the two treatments in preventing complications immediately after surgery, but partial transfusion was linked to fewer adverse events. The second study compared transfusion to standard care and did not show an advantage in transfusion. Both studies reported a range of complications related to transfusion. However, many details of study design were not recorded in the published papers and statistical analysis indicated a lack of certainty in the findings. There is not enough evidence to recommend blood transfusions before surgery for people with sickle cell disease as standard practice. A large study should look at the best use of this treatment and consider different risk groups.

Hydralazine for treatment of high blood pressure

Hydralazine has been used for the treatment of high blood pressure since the 1950's. It is believed that hydralazine reduces blood pressure, however there are concerns due to the potential for this drug to cause adverse effects. The aim of this review was to determine the extent to which hydralazine reduces blood pressure, the nature of hydralazine’s adverse effect profile, and to determine the clinical impact of its use for hypertension. Unfortunately, the search revealed no randomized controlled trials which compared hydralazine to placebo as monotherapy for primary hypertension, therefore we are unable to make firm conclusions regarding its effects on blood pressure, adverse effects, or clinical outcomes. Some of the adverse effects related to hydralazine and that have been reported in the literature include reflex tachycardia, hemolytic anemia, vasculitis, glomerulonephritis, and a lupus‐like syndrome.

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Terms to know

Anemia
A condition caused when the body does not have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in the blood that carries oxygen.
Arrhythmia (Cardiac Arrhythmia)
An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.
Bone Marrow
The soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones. It produces white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Heart Failure
A chronic condition in which the heart cannot pump blood properly.
Hemoglobin
A protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues and organs in the body and carries carbon dioxide back to the lungs.
Platelets (Thrombocytes)
A tiny piece of cell that is made by breaking off of a large cell in the bone marrow. Platelets are found in the blood and spleen. They help form blood clots to slow or stop bleeding, and to help wounds heal. Also called thrombocyte.
Red Blood Cells (Erythrocytes)
A cell that carries oxygen to all parts of the body.
White Blood Cells (Leukocytes)
A type of immune cell. Most white blood cells are made in the bone marrow and are found in the blood and lymph tissue. White blood cells help the body fight infections and other diseases. Granulocytes, monocytes, and lymphocytes are white blood cells.

More about Hemolytic Anemia

Photo of an adult

Also called: Haemolytic anaemia

Other terms to know: See all 8
Anemia, Arrhythmia (Cardiac Arrhythmia), Bone Marrow

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