Anemia is an important healthcare concern among the elderly. In these patients, the anemia is often mild, with a hemoglobin level >10 g/dL. It is usually well tolerated, but might be responsible for several proteiform and/or atypical presenting complaints. In the elderly, anemia is usually of multifactorial origin, including chronic inflammation, chronic kidney disease, nutrient deficiencies and iron deficiency (approximately two-thirds of all cases). The remaining cases are unexplained (unknown etiology). In the elderly, the classic diagnosis of anemia, which is based on the mean corpuscular volume associated with a low hemoglobin level, might not be accurate. A predefined standardized diagnostic procedure should be followed. In the common case of frail elderly patients, all investigations should be carefully considered and invasive examinations undertaken where justified (risk-benefit balance). Nevertheless, most cases of anemia require further investigation and the underlying cause should be identified and treated whenever possible.
Keywords: anemia; chronic inflammation; chronic renal failure; elderly; iron deficiency; vitamin deficiency.
© 2012 Japan Geriatrics Society.