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Treatment of Anemia

By Evan M. Braunstein, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

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When possible, the cause of the anemia is treated. When the hemoglobin (Hb) falls dangerously low (eg, < 7 g/dL for patients without cardiopulmonary insufficiency or higher for patients with it), RBC transfusion temporarily increases oxygen-carrying capacity. RBC transfusion should be reserved for patients

  • With or at high risk of cardiopulmonary symptoms

  • With active, uncontrollable blood loss

  • With some form of hypoxic or ischemic end-organ failure (eg, neurologic ischemic symptoms, angina, tachycardia in patients with underlying heart failure or severe COPD)

Transfusion procedures and blood components are discussed elsewhere.