The WHO defines anaemia as being characterised by a finding of a Haemoglobin (Hb) concentration of <130 g/L in men, <120 g/L in women, and <110 g/L in pregnant women and preschool children. Clinical manifestations of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) include weakness, headache, irritability and fatigue. Less common symptoms include glossal pain, dry mouth, alopecia and generalised pruritus. Iron deficiency, without overt anaemia, is associated with cognitive impairment in pre-schoolers, teenagers and the elderly.
The impact of even mild iron deficiency anaemia upon physical functioning of the elderly can be significant. A trial involving community dwelling elderly women found those with borderline Hb of 120–130 g/L performed worse than those with Hb 130–150 g/L on tests of walking speed, balance and ability to rise from a chair.
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Editor: Assoc. Prof. Chris Alderman, University of South Australia – Director of Pharmacy, RGH © Pharmacy Department, Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, South Australia 5041.