Mortality and morbidity due to the failure to treat mild anemia unrelated to cancer in elderly Americans—Review of the literature and case presentation


Even mild iron deficiency anemia, as defined by the World Health Organization, is associated with increased mortality and significant morbidity in elderly individuals who are cancer free. Yet, anemia in the elderly is often dismissed as a benign sign of aging. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that elderly individuals often suffer from gastrointestinal complaints that preclude treatment with iron supplements by mouth. The FDA has approved two brands of injectable iron for treating such patients. Nonetheless, a major American health maintenance organization refuses to treat elderly patients with injectable iron, even when it is indicated, unless their anemia is associated with cancer. This may well reflect a public health crisis afflicting many elderly residents of the United States.

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Allen, A. (2013) Mortality and morbidity due to the failure to treat mild anemia unrelated to cancer in elderly Americans—Review of the literature and case presentation. Advances in Aging Research, 2, 154-159. doi: 10.4236/aar.2013.24022.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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