Aging & Health A to Z
Basic Facts & Information
Anemia is a condition that results when you have low numbers of red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues. This can happen due to a number of reasons.
Anemia is a common condition in older adults, although it’s not caused by normal aging. It has many causes, including some you can control. For example, in older people, a poor diet can lead to anemia.
Anemia is more common among women than men, but by age 65, it occurs more often in men. It is diagnosed in about 20% of men and 15% of women over age 80.
Types of Anemia
Iron is one of the main building blocks for red blood cell production. Iron in the body can be too low if you are bleeding and losing iron faster than you can replace it, if your body doesn't absorb iron from your food, or if you don't eat enough food that contains iron. Low iron is a very common reason for blood cell counts to be low.
Anemia of Chronic Disease
Anemia of chronic disease is a result of chronic inflammation caused by ongoing infections, tissue damage, various forms of arthritis, benign or malignant tumors, or a variety of chronic medical conditions.
Pernicious anemia occurs when you do not have enough vitamin B12 or folate.
This type of anemia happens when your red blood cells are destroyed by disease.
Updated: November 2016
Posted: March 2012