Anemia is a condition that occurs when hemoglobin levels in the blood drop to lower levels. Hemoglobin is an important protein that helps with transportation of oxygen to body organs and tissues in the body. Often, this disease in associated with heart disease since the heart is expected to work more in order to pump a higher amount of blood in order to get oxygen to all parts of the body. Anemia develops when a person’s body is unable to produce sufficient amounts of red blood cells to transport hemoglobin to all parts of the body. In some cases, the blood itself could contain very low levels of hemoglobin.
Causes of Anemia
Though anemia occurs in different forms, their underlying causes are the same. They develop either as a result of low hemoglobin levels or inadequate red blood cells. Anemia is also a hereditary disease that can be passed on from one generation to another. Other common causes are low levels of folate and vitamins B-12, fast loss of blood due to bleeding ulcers, heavy periods or surgery as well as other pre-existing conditions such as cancer and kidney disease.
Impact on a patient’s health
When a person develops anemia, his or her body is not able to get the amount of oxygen it requires. If left untreated, the condition can lead to serious damage on body organs. Early signs of anemia include fatigue, general weakness, difficulty in breathing, discomfort, chest pain, numbness on the feet and hands, abnormal or fast heartbeat, irritability pale appearance, low concentration, dizziness or headaches and feeling cold particularly on the feet and hands. Severe anemia can cause the heart to pump faster and harder in an attempt to compensate for low levels of oxygen in the body.
It is estimated that 48% of persons who suffer heart failure have anemia. At the same time, 43% of patients who get hospitalized due to heart attack have anemia. It has also been established that anemic people have a 41% risk of requiring procedures for treating heart disease or suffering a heart attack compared to those who are not anemic. These aspects demonstrate the link between heart disease and anemia. If left unattended, anemia has a heavy toll on the body particularly because oxygen levels in the body become chronically diminished. The condition of persons who have pre-existing heart condition tends to deteriorate when they develop anemia since low oxygen levels strain their hearts.
Different types of Anemia
Anemia occurs in various forms. Anemia relating to iron deficiency is the form that is frequently diagnosed. It occurs when the body lacks iron, a mineral that is critical in the body to facilitate production of hemoglobin.
Thalassemia is another form of anemia that results from hereditary genetic disorder in families. With this form of anemia, the body is unable to produces hemoglobin or red blood cells. Sickle cell anemia is also a hereditary condition that occurs when red blood cells have an abnormal, sickle shape. This causes them to become extremely fragile as well as less effective in transporting oxygen to body tissues.
With Hemolytic anemia, red blood cells are removed rapidly from the blood. It may be caused by immune system medications, infections and diseases and may also develop following blood transfusion.
When the body fails to get sufficient quantities of folate or vitamin B12, Megaloblastic anemia can develop. This form of anemia is characterized by production of red blood cells that are bigger in size than normal. These red blood cells are not able to transport hemoglobin in the body efficiently.
Risk factors for Anemia
Several factors increase a person’s chances of developing anemia. These factors include a history of blood disorders or anemia, blood loss due to surgery, injury or heavy menstruation, poor diet or chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, thyroid problems, and kidney disease among others.
Is you suspect you could be suffering from Anemia, visit a health facility so an xpertdox can run some blood tests. The doctor will be able to conduct a complete blood count in order to tell the level of hemoglobin in your blood. A blood count test is important because it provides information on levels of blood cells including platelets and white blood cells so that your doctor identifies the cause of your anemia. During the test, levels of folate, iron and vitamin B12 are also checked.
Where the doctor suspects you may have inherited anemia, a special test known as hemoglobin electrophoresis could be performed. Through this test, specific kinds of hemoglobin may be detected in your blood. This will be useful in diagnosing thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.
Upon diagnosis, treatment starts with changes in diet, vitamin supplements and medications all geared towards increasing production of red blood cells. In some instances, procedures such as bone marrow transplant and blood transfusion may be considered.
To prevent anemia, especially the kind of that results from vitamin deficiencies, take foods that are rich in iron, take enough vitamin C so your body can absorb iron properly and avoid caffeine products because these interfere with absorption of iron.