Basic Facts

People with anemia have fewer red blood cells or weaker red blood cells than normal. This causes the blood to carry less oxygen through the body.

By age 65, men are somewhat more likely to have anemia than women. Up to 22 percent of men and up to 16 percent of women over age 80 have anemia.

Types of Anemia

Iron-deficiency Anemia

Low iron is a very common reason for red blood cell counts to be low. Iron can be too low if a person cannot absorb iron from their food, if they don't eat enough food that contains iron, or if they are bleeding and losing iron faster than it can be replaced in the diet.

Anemia of Chronic Disease

Anemia related to chronic disease can result from infections, kidney damage, various types of arthritis, tumors, or other long-term conditions. Sometimes a person’s anemia can result from several types of chronic conditions at the same time.

Pernicious Anemia

Pernicious anemia occurs when a person does not have enough vitamin B12 or folate.

Hemolytic Anemia

This type of anemia happens when a person’s red blood cells are destroyed by disease. People may become ill quickly.


Last Updated November 2022

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