Prevalence and characteristics of anemia in an elderly population attending a Health Family Program

Diana L. Barbosa Ilma K. G. Arruda Alcides S. Diniz About the authors

Anemia is a serious public health problem worldwide that mainly affects children and women of childbearing age. However, data about anemia in elderly individuals are still scarce in developing countries. This study aimed at assessing the prevalence and characteristics of anemia among an elderly population attending the Health Family Program in Camaragibe, northeast Brazil. Following a systematic sampling procedure, a cross-sectional study was carried out in November and December 2003 involving 284 subjects of both genders with ages grater than or equal to 60 years old. Anemia was estimated by the measurement of hemoglobin, mean cell hemoglobin concentration, mean cell volume and red cell distribution width. The prevalence of anemia was around 11.0%. Red cell distribution width and mean cell volume were not correlated to hemoglobin count. The major characteristics of anemia were normochromia with normocytosis without anisocytosis suggesting anemia due to chronic diseases. The very low prevalence of microcytosis, macrocytosis and anisocytosis seems to be more likely due to causes other than iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiencies. The use of indicators that reflect the degree of anisocytosis, as well as parameters to assess iron status should be strongly recommended in the screening of anemia in the elderly population.

Anaemia; elderly; hematimetric indices; diagnosis; Health Family Programme


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