Anemia and hemoglobin levels in older persons: relationship with age, gender, and health status

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1992 May;40(5):489-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1992.tb02017.x.


Objective: To determine the relationship of hemoglobin levels and anemia with age and health status in older adults.

Design: Survey.

Setting: Community.

Participants and methods: Hematologic tests were obtained from 3,946 adults aged greater than or equal to 71 years in three communities (East Boston, MA; Iowa and Washington counties, IA; and New Haven, CT).

Results: Hemoglobin level was inversely associated with age, although this was more pronounced in men than in women. The proportion anemic was equal for men and women aged 71-74 years (8.6%) and increased differentially with age, reaching 41% and 21% for men and women aged greater than or equal to 90 years, respectively. Hemoglobin and anemia were independently associated with age, race, body-mass index, smoking, cancer, hospitalization, renal insufficiency, and hypoalbuminemia. The adjusted relative odds of anemia for a 5-year increase in age was 1.5 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-1.8) for men and 1.2 (95% CI 1.1-1.4) for women.

Conclusions: Age is significantly associated with both hemoglobin levels and anemia, with a stronger effect in men compared with women, even after simultaneously adjusting for demographic characteristics and health status. The decline of hemoglobin and concomitant increased anemia with age is not necessarily a result of "normal aging" so the detection of anemia in an older person should prompt appropriate clinical attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status*
  • Hemoglobins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors


  • Hemoglobins