Anemic Seniors Face Other Health Problems
They're more likely to have less strength and more disabilities
MONDAY, May 10, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Older adults with anemia have less strength, more disabilities and poorer physical performance than older adults without anemia.
So says a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study in the current issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"Our results suggest that anemia is a risk factor for disability, poor physical function and low muscle strength -- all which can threaten the independence of older adults," lead researcher Brenda Penninx said in a prepared statement.
"Physicians should be aware of their older patients' anemia status, even if there is no apparent disease," she said.
She and her colleagues examined data from a study of 1,156 older adults in Italy.
"Participants with anemia reported an average of 1.7 disabilities, compared to an average of 1.0 for the non-anemic subjects," Penninx said.
People with anemia also had much less strength in their hand and knee muscles and scored lower on performance tests.
"Our research suggests that anemia deserves more attention. We need to learn whether treatment can help restore physical function or prevent a physical decline," Penninx said.
Anemia, a reduced level of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, affects about 13 percent of people over age 70. It has a number of causes, including iron or vitamin B-12 deficiencies and chronic diseases such as liver disease or cancer.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about anemia.