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June 23, 2003

Anemia: Not Just an Innocent Bystander?

Arch Intern Med. 2003;163(12):1400-1404. doi:10.1001/archinte.163.12.1400

ANEMIA HAS traditionally been identified through abnormal laboratory values, with a focus on whether or not it should be treated, rather than perceived as a serious clinical condition. For example, the decision to manage anemia with blood transfusions is based on the evaluation of relative risks and benefits, in which the estimated risks of a blood transfusion are quantifiable1 and can be communicated to patients. But the magnitude of the risks associated with untreated anemia has largely remained unknown, and therefore has not been effectively conveyed to patients. In contrast to treatment strategies for other diseases, guidelines2,3 for the management of anemia have only occasionally been developed for patients with specific conditions.