Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 31 Jan 2024

Anemia is the presence of reduced hemoglobin in the blood. Formally, the World Health Organizatiοn (WHO) defines anemia by the hemoglobin concentration in the blood according to age and sex 1:

  • adult men: <130 g/L

  • adult women: <120 g/L

Values for pregnant women and children are different.

The clinical features of anemia vary depending on the severity and underlying cause, and when present, can be subtle. General clinical features may include fatigue, dyspnea, pallor of mucous membranes, and tachycardia 2.

The etiology of anemia is traditionally categorized by the volume of the red cell, i.e. the mean cell volume (MCV), into microcytic (MCV <82 fL), normocytic (MCV = 82-98 fL) and macrocytic (MCV >98 fL) anemias 2. It should be noted that some causes of anemia may overlap between these categories.

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