Prevalence of anemia and micronutrient deficiency in elderly

Dr. Shoba Devi, K. and Dr. Srinivas, P.S.S.

Background: Untreated geriatric anemia is important to diagnose early as it is associated with greater morbidity and mortality in comparison to the anemia in younger adults.

Objectives: To determine the prevalence, patterns of anaemia, and to assess haemopoietic nutrient status of geriatric population attending a hospital.

Material and methods: 2540 subjects aged 60 years and above, attending our geriatric clinic were screened for presence of anemia. 100 anemic subjects were randomly selected for further characterization. Tests carried out were, pattern of anemia, full blood count, serum ferritin and stool for occult blood. Vitamin B12, folate and other additional investigations were carried out in selected patients as per study protocol. Main outcome measure: Prevalence, pattern and underlying etiologies of anemia.

Results: The prevalence of anemia was 71%. Normocytic blood picture was most common. Eleven cases had absolute iron deficiency. 5 and 2 cases had low vitamin B12 and folate levels respectively. Nine out of 11 (82%) patients with depleted iron stores had positive stool occult blood.

Conclusions: Screening for anemia is important in all geriatric patients seeking medical care, irrespective of the presenting illness. Also a dedicated search for micronutrient deficiency and stool occult blood should be a routine component of the etiological work up of anemic elderly.

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