Merck Manual

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Treatment of Anemia


Evan M. Braunstein

, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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If identified, the cause of the anemia is treated. When the hemoglobin (Hb) falls dangerously low (eg, < 7 g/dL [< 70 g/L] for patients without cardiopulmonary insufficiency or higher for patients with it), red blood cell (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 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Transfusion procedures and blood components are discussed elsewhere, as is the evaluation of anemia.

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