Anemia Glossary

Allogeneic Blood Transfusion
Blood transfusions are sometimes used to treat severe anemia.

Autologous Blood Transfusion
Infusion of blood or blood products donated by another person into an artery or vein. For surgery, the blood is usually predonated. In general, autologous blood transfusion is much safer than allogeneic blood transfusion.

Anemia occurs when you have a below-normal level of hemoglobin or hematocrit. Anemia can be a temporary or long-term disease/illness, and can range from mild to severe. If you have mild anemia, there may be no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but severe anemia can result in a major impact on the quality of life.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitor (ACE Inhibitor)
A drug used primarily to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. These drugs slow the production of angiotensin II and lower blood pressure. ACE inhibitors are also used to prevent damage in people with diabetes or high blood pressure.

Barium Enema
X-ray examination of the lower gastrointestinal tract. Barium is a chalky solution that improves the x-ray images. A barium enema is introduced into the lower gastrointestinal tract through a tube inserted into the anus before the study.

Blood Transfusion
In allogeneic blood transfusion, the blood is donated by another person; in autologous blood transfusion, the patient's own blood is used.

Cardiovascular Disease
A term for disease of the heart and blood vessels. Such diseases include peripheral vascular disease, narrowing or damage to the vessels in the arms, legs, and feet. Narrowing or damage to the vessels in the brain which can lead to stroke and other complications.

Celiac Disease
Disorder that causes damage to the intestines when gluten is eaten (protein in grains like wheat, oats, rye, and barley). Celiac disease can lead to iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia because of bleeding from the small intestine.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
A condition which occurs when the kidneys can not do their job of cleaning blood of toxins and waste products. Anemia is a common complication of chronic kidney disease because the kidneys are unable to manufacture enough erythropoietin, a hormone that regulates the production of red blood cells. Diabetes and high blood pressure are two main causes of CKD.

A visual examination of the colon (large intestine) with an endoscope.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
A condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is inadequate because the arteries are narrowed.

Crohn's Disease
Inflammatory disease of small intestine. See inflammatory bowel disease.

Darbepoetin Alfa
A drug frequently used to treat anemia. Darbepoetin alfa (trade name Aranesp®) is a genetically engineered form of erythropoietin, a hormone that regulates the production of red blood cells. Darbepoetin alfa is similar to recombinant human erythropoietin, but lasts approximately three times longer in the body, and is administered less frequently.

A chronic disease in which the body is unable to regulate glucose (blood sugar). Diabetes occurs because the body produces little or no insulin or does not respond to insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood and requires insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes is usually begins in adulthood, and may or may not require insulin. Type 2 diabetes can often be controlled with a special diet, exercise, and or medication.

A mechanical procedure which cleanses the blood of toxins and waste products. See also hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

A long, thin, flexible tube with a light and a camera mounted on the end. An endoscope can be inserted to examine the gastrointestinal tract.

End-Stage Renal Disease
The final, irreversible phase of kidney disease. The kidneys function at 10% or less of normal function and dialysis or kidney transplantation is required. Anemia is a common complication of end-stage renal disease because the kidneys are unable to produce enough erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the red blood cell production.

Epoetin Alfa
See recombinant human erythropoietin.

A hormone produced by the kidneys which regulates red blood cell production. See also recombinant human erythropoietin and darbepoetin alfa.

B vitamin necessary for red blood cell production. Folate deficiency can lead to anemia and, during pregnancy, can affect the normal development of the fetus' neural tube. Good sources of folate include liver; green, leafy vegetables; beans; beets; broccoli; cauliflower; citrus fruits; and sweet potatoes.

Folic Acid
Synthetic form of folate, used in supplements and fortified foods. Folic acid is used to treat some cases of anemia.

Gastrointestinal (GI)
Related to the digestive system. The upper GI tract includes the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. The lower gastrointestinal tract includes the large intestine. Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract is a common cause of iron deficiency anemia.

Heart Failure
A serious condition in which the heart pumps blood less effectively than normal. As a result, the heart is unable to provide enough blood to other organs. Congestive heart failure occurs when the ineffective pumping leads to a buildup of fluid in the tissues, which is called edema. The term "heart failure" does not mean that the heart has stopped.

The percentage of red blood cells in a blood sample. In general, men with a hematocrit less than 41% and women with a hematocrit less than 36% are considered anemic.

A mechanical procedure used to remove toxins and waste from the blood. Blood is removed from an artery, purified by a machine, and returned to the body.

The oxygen-carrying part of red blood cells. The amount of hemoglobin in the blood is typically expressed in g/dL of blood (grams of hemoglobin per deciliter). The World Health Organization defines anemia as hemoglobin less than 12 g/dL for nonpregnant women and less than 13 g/dL for men.

Hemoglobin-Based Oxygen Carrier (HBOC)
Solutions which allows hemoglobin to circulate in plasma, enhancing oxygen-carrying capacity that can be used as a blood substitute. HBOC's may be useful when there are shortages of donated blood. In addition, HBOCs have some advantages over donated blood. They have a long shelf life, don't have to be refrigerated, and can be manufactured so that they don't harbor viruses.

Hepatitis C
A virus that causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to life-threatening liver damage. Hepatitis C virus, can lead to cirrhosis, a serious liver condition caused by scarring. Cirrhosis is a major cause of anemia because it results in internal bleeding. Two drugs used to treat liver disease, ribavirin and interferon, can lead to hemolytic anemia (premature destruction of red blood cells).

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
A condition that causes irritation and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Anemia is a common complication of IBD, most often caused by iron deficiency due to gastrointestinal blood loss.

Iron Deficiency
Not enough iron in the body, resulting in impaired bone marrow and muscle function. Iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia because iron is necessary to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying part of red blood cells. Iron deficiency is most common in premature infants, infants and young children who are fed cow's milk or iron-poor formula, menstruating women, and pregnant women.

Iron Deficiency Anemia
Anemia that occurs after the body has been low in iron or lost a lot of blood (such as in women who have heavy menstrual periods). Iron deficiency is often related to an inadequate diet. Iron is found in meat and poultry, egg yolks, and, to a lesser extent, green leafy vegetables; dried fruits, beans, and peas; and whole grain and enriched cereals and breads. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Foods rich in vitamin C, are citrus fruits, strawberries, mustard greens, cauliflower, and green peppers.

Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (K/DOQI)
An effort sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation to provide guidelines to improve the care of patients with chronic kidney disease. The guidelines have addressed critical management issues such as hemodialysis adequacy, vascular access, and anemia.

Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH)
Thickening of the heart's lower left chamber. LVH is often caused by high blood pressure, valvular disease, or coronary artery disease. In certain cases, LVH can be controlled or improved with medication and close follow-up.

Nonmyeloid Malignancy
Any cancer that does not originate in the bone marrow or involve the myeloid elements of the marrow. An example of a nonmyeloid malignancy is multiple myeloma.

Peritoneal Dialysis
A mechanical procedure used to remove the excess toxin's and waste products from the blood. First, a soft plastic tube called a catheter is surgically inserted into the abdominal cavity (belly). During dialysis, the tube is used to fill the abdominal cavity with a special fluid called dialysis solution. This solution contains dextrose, a sugar that pulls wastes and extra body fluid into the abdominal cavity. The walls of the abdominal cavity have a thin lining called the peritoneum, which filters waste products from the bloodstream into the dialysis solution. When the filtering process is finished, the dialysis solution is drained out of the abdominal cavity through the catheter.

An inactive drug used as a control in a medical study. It looks the same as the drug being studied and is administered in the same way. In order to be proven acceptable, the experimental drug must produce better results than the placebo.

Quality of Life
An individual's overall sense of well-being. In medical studies, quality of life is measured using various standardized questionnaires to rate such factors as pain, treatment side-effects, mood, energy level, family and social interactions, sexual function, ability to work, and ability to keep up with routine daily activities.

Randomized, Controlled Study
Objective medical study for evaluating drugs and procedures. "Controlled" means that the treatment under investigation is compared with a placebo or with a treatment whose effects are well known. "Randomized" means each patient is assigned to receive either the experimental treatment or the control treatment without preference or bias.

Recombinant Human Erythropoietin (rHuEPO)
A drug used to treat anemia in patients. The form used in the United States is epoetin alfa (trade names Epogen® and Procrit®). Other forms, epoetin beta and epoetin omega, are available outside the United States. This drug is a genetically engineered form of erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys which regulates the production of red blood cells.

Red Blood Cells
Red blood cells carry hemoglobin and deliver oxygen throughout the body. A reduced number of red blood cells, or a shortened life span of these cells, can lead to anemia.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Chronic inflammatory disease that affects the connective tissues. RA can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints.

Serum Ferritin
An indirect measure of the body's iron stores, typically expressed in ng/mL, or nanograms of iron per milliliter of blood. The normal range is 20 ng/dL to 250 ng/dL in men and 10 ng/mL to 120 ng/mL in women. A low serum ferritin level (less than 20 ng/mL) indicates depleted iron stores and may signal iron deficiency anemia.

Statistically Significant
Something is statistically significant if it is proven to be at least 95% accurate and can be caused by a change no more than 51% of all cases.

Also called cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or apoplexy. Occurs due to a lack of blood supply to the brain.

Ulcerative Colitis
See inflammatory bowel disease.

Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Examination of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestines with an endoscope.

Vitamin B12
A vitamin that is important in the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia. Vitamin B12 deficiency is found most often in older persons and in vegetarians. Food sources of Vitamin B12 include meat, eggs, milk, and yeast.