Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease
Anemia is a condition in which the body has fewer red blood cells than normal. Red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues and organs throughout the body and enable them to use energy from food. With anemia, red blood cells carry less oxygen to tissues and organs—particularly the heart and brain—and those tissues and organs may not function as well as they should.
What causes anemia in chronic kidney disease?
When kidneys are diseased or damaged, they do not make enough EPO. As a result, the bone marrow makes fewer red blood cells, causing anemia. When blood has fewer red blood cells, it deprives the body of the oxygen it needs.
Healthy kidneys produce a hormone called EPO. EPO prompts the bone
marrow to make red blood cells, which then carry oxygen throughout the
body. When the kidneys are diseased or damaged, they do not make enough
EPO. As a result, the bone marrow makes fewer red blood cells, causing
Image from the National Institutes of Health
Other common causes of anemia in people with kidney disease include blood loss from hemodialysis and low levels of the following nutrients found in food:
- vitamin B12
- folic acid
These nutrients are necessary for red blood cells to make hemoglobin, the main oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells.
If treatments for kidney-related anemia do not help, the health care provider will look for other causes of anemia, including
- other problems with bone marrow
- inflammatory problems—such as arthritis, lupus, or inflammatory bowel disease—in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own cells and organs
- chronic infections such as diabetic ulcers
If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment, please do not hesitate to call the office at (706) 548-0058. Remember that we usually require that you see a primary care physician (your family doctor or PCP) before we can schedule you. If you are having a medical emergency, get medical attention immediately at your nearest healthcare provider:
Athens Regional Medical Center: (706) 475-7000
St. Mary's Hospital: (706) 354-3000
This informational material is taken from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources.
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