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What is the prognosis of mild normocytic anaemia in older people?

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Abstract Background: 

There is reduced survival for people with all types of anaemia and it has been shown that there is a low yield from investigations for older people with normocytic anaemia. However, the longer-term outcomes of people with mild normocytic anaemia are not known. Aims: 

To determine the 5-year prognosis of older people with mild normocytic anaemia, compared with non-anaemic controls. Methods: 

This was a prospective cohort study, with some retrospective data collection, comparing 52 people aged ≥65 years (haemoglobin 100−119 g/L; mean cell volume 80−99 fL) without an obvious cause at presentation with 52 non-anaemic controls. The incidence of death, new malignancies and significant illnesses was compared between the two groups, 5 years later. Results: 

Anaemic patients were less likely to be living at home at baseline. Although survival was lower for the anaemic group at all follow-up times, these differences were not significantly different. Over 5 years, there were no significant differences between groups in the types of problems that developed. Conclusions: 

A mild normocytic anaemia in older people, in the absence of an obvious cause, is not associated with significant differences in outcomes but is associated with poorer independence and a trend to lower survival. We suggest it may therefore be a marker of frailty in older people. (Intern Med J 2003; 33: 14−17)

Keywords: aged; cohort studies; normocytic ­anaemia; prognosis; survival analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The Princess Margaret Hospital and 2: Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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