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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

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.

Systematic review of intravenous immunoglobulin in haemolytic disease of the newborn

This review compared high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (HDIVIG) plus phototherapy with phototherapy alone. The authors concluded that addition of HDIVIG to phototherapy is an effective treatment for haemolytic disease of the newborn. The review was generally well conducted and the evidence presented supports the conclusions, although it should be noted that the number of included studies and patients was small.

Does epoetin alfa improve health-related quality of life in chronically ill patients with anemia: summary of trials of cancer, HIV/AIDS, and chronic kidney disease

The authors concluded that epoetin α treatment of anaemia in various conditions had a statistically and clinically significant impact on health-related quality of life, particularly fatigue. In light of the possibility of error and bias in the review process, and the unclear quality of the included studies, the authors’ conclusions should be treated with caution.

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Summaries for consumers

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.

Purine Antagonists for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia

Despite increasing insight into its tumour biology B‐CLL remains an incurable disease. So far, chemotherapy with alkylating agents such as chlorambucil has been the mainstay of treatment in B‐CLL. However, purine antagonists such as fludarabine are increasingly being used, as it has been suggested that these novel drugs are more effective. This review confirms the greater response rates achievable by using purine antagonists but at the cost of greater toxicity, mainly infections. There is inconclusive evidence whether treatment with purine antagonists improves survival. None of the studies included quality of life data. More research is needed to fully explore the role of purine antagonists in the treatment of B‐CLL and their potential impact on survival.

Eculizumab for treating patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria

We reviewed the evidence about the effects of eculizumab for treating patients with paroxsymal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.

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Terms to know

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.
Bone Marrow
The soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones. It produces white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Cardiac Arrhythmia (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.
Erythrocytes (Red Blood Cells)
A cell that carries oxygen to all parts of the body.
Heart Failure
A chronic condition in which the heart cannot pump blood properly.
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.
Leukocytes (White Blood Cells)
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.
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.

More about Hemolytic Anemia

Photo of an adult

Also called: Haemolytic anaemia

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

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