treatment strategies you should know

Why you should care about Anemia?

About anemia

Anemia is extremely common, affecting nearly one-quarter of the world’s population and often considered relatively harmless. However, it can be a serious condition with dire implications such as delayed mental and motor development in children, extreme exhaustion, and increased disease and death in surgical patients or people with chronic disease. Women of all ages are particularly at risk.

Symptoms of Anemia
Symptoms include extreme fatigue and weakness, feeling tired, difficulty sleeping, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, headache, dizziness or fainting, and paleness.

What causes Anemia?
Normally, the body makes enough red cells, but certain diseases, treatments, and conditions can cause the underproduction of red blood cells. Additionally, Iron deficiency anemia is thought to be the most common cause of anemia and is said to affect about 2 billion people worldwide.

What causes iron deficiency anemia?
Possible factors that may lead to iron deficiency include inadequate intake of iron, poor absorption of dietary iron, and periods of life with high demands of iron such as pregnancy and growth. Gastrointestinal blood loss is reported as the most common cause of iron deficiency anemia.

Free Downloads:

Anemia Treatment Strategies You Should Know
A Patient’s Guide to Patient Blood Management

What is Anemia?
Treatment options for Anemia


Traditional treatment of advanced anemia frequently relies on blood transfusion. However, treating anemia can be achieved with the proper combination and management of medications and good nutrition. For example:


IRON is essential in building red blood cells.

  • Oral – taken by mouth and absorbed through the digestive tract. Not all preparations are the same and contain varying amounts of elemental iron and other ingredients. (See Oral Iron Supplement reminders).
  • Intravenous – infused into the vein for rapid delivery to patients whose iron stores are severely depleted or who cannot tolerate oral iron. Several preparations are now available; must be administered by qualified, medical personnel—usually in a hospital.

ERYTHROPOIETIN (EPO) is a hormone produced primarily by the kidney that stimulates the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. A genetically engineered version, known as Procrit® or Epogen® is now available to boost patient’s blood production, elevating hematocrit levels and used in priming your body before surgery. Because this medication uses the iron stores in your body, there must be adequate iron replacement for the best response.

FOLIC ACID a vitamin that stimulates the production of blood cells.

VITAMIN B12 found in food that is essential for growth, cell production, and other functions in the body. It is used to treat types of anemias, cancers, liver/kidney disease, and bleeding.


Food rich in iron can help prevent iron deficiency anemia. All meals should be consumed with foods containing Vitamin C to improve iron absorption. Foods containing vitamin B12 and folic acid will assist in red blood cell formation and maturation.

EXCELLENT SOURCES OF IRON Beef, veal, oysters, tuna, calf/beef liver, chicken, sardines, scallops, pork, chicken liver, clams, mackerel, turkey, lamb, shrimp, salmon, iron-fortified cereals.

GOOD SOURCES OF IRON Beans: Lima, lentils, peas, soybeans, baked beans; greens: mustard, turnip, beet, collard; dried fruit: apricots, prunes, raisins, peaches, dates; eggs, spinach, chard, whole and enriched grains; blackstrap molasses.

BEST SOURCES OF VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID) Lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, limes and 100% juices of these fruits; mango, papaya, honeydew, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi; tomatoes, spinach, greens, broccoli, green peppers, chili peppers, Brussels sprouts.

BEST SOURCES OF VITAMIN B12: All meats, liver and dairy products.

BEST SOURCES OF FOLIC ACID Livers, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, spinach, dried beans, whole wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ, yeast, oranges, broccoli and cabbage.


If your physician has prescribed oral iron, please consider these reminders:

  • Take iron supplement on an empty stomach with citrus juices which may increase iron absorption.
  • Iron can be taken with food but food will decrease absorption of iron by 50%.
  • Take 250 mg of Vitamin C every day which may increase iron absorption.
  • Do not drink coffee and tea within one hour of taking iron.
  • Taking iron with meals along with fiber and roughage and 6-8oz water will help reduce constipation and cramping.
  • Iron can cause dark stools.
  • Notify your physician if you experience bright red blood, vomiting diarrhea, tarry stools, weak and rapid pulse or lethargy.
  • Keep all iron medications out of reach of children at all times.


Speak with your doctor about the treatment plan that is right for you. If you are anticipating surgery, discuss ways you can build your strength and blood counts before the operation.
Discuss any medication(s) you are using, such as:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications— including steroids or anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin.
  • Dietary supplements.
  • Herbal products.

Ask your doctor if you should you stop using blood-thinning medication before or after surgery.

For Healthcare Providers
SABM educates clinicians and healthcare professionals about anemia at the Iron Corner. The Iron Corner was developed in 2009 and continues to be updated by a collaborative team of physicians, pharmacists, and nurses and providing practical resources, guidelines, and current research to assist in the effective iron management of patients.