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Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2016 Jul;141(13):954-9. doi: 10.1055/s-0041-103349. Epub 2016 Jun 30.

[Anaemia in the elderly].

[Article in German]


In the elderly, even mild anaemia leads to significantly decreased quality of life and reduced survival rate. Therefore even mild anaemias should be worked up especially in the elderly. More than 75 % of all anaemias have a specific and treatable cause.Differential diagnosis of anaemia in the elderly is much more challenging compared to the differential diagnosis in younger patients: in older patients often more than one dysfunction is responsible for the anaemia simultaneously. Many routine laboratory parameters are changed by ageing and are therefore only of limited value for diagnosis of anaemia. Soluble transferinreceptor and hepcidin are two parameters feasible for differential diagnosis of the causes of anaemia in the elderly.The most common cause of iron deficiency anaemia in the elderly is gastrointestinal bleeding. Many causes for gastrointestinal bleeding -like angiodysplasia of the colon - can readily be treated with endoscopic therapy. For this reason, colonoscopy is part of the standard workup for elderly patients with iron-deficient anaemia (IDA) if no contraindications exist.Therapy of anaemia is based on the specific cause or the causes. In IDA, the first step other than causal treatment is to replace iron orally. If this is not tolerated because of side effects or does not lead to a sufficient rise in the haemoglobin level, intravenous iron replacement therapy is indicated. Folic acid deficiency is generally treated orally, whereas vitamin B12 deficiency is generally treated by the parenteral - preferably subcutaneous - route. In anaemia due to chronic renal failure and anaemia due to myelodysplastic syndromes, the underlying cause must be treated, furthermore erythropoiesis-stimulating agents can be indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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