Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis. 2021 May 1;13(1):e2021038. doi: 10.4084/MJHID.2021.038. eCollection 2021.
In western countries, about half of the hospitalized patients are anemic. Generally, these patients are old, often with multiple diseases, and anemia worsens the prognosis, finally increasing the risk of death. We describe a monocentric observational study that evaluates 249 consecutive adult patients (160 women and 89 men) with anemia admitted in the internal medicine department over five months. They represent 71.5% of all patients admitted in the study period. Demographic, historical, and clinical data, laboratory tests, duration of hospitalization, readmission at 30 days, and death were recorded. Patients were stratified by age (75-84=old, >85 years=oldest-old), anemia severity, and etiology of anemia. Anemia was found in 67.5% of old and in 77.2% of oldest-old patients. In 37% of old and 32% of oldest-old patients, anemia was mild, in 43% old and 59% of oldest-old moderate and in 20% old and 9% of oldest-old severe in agreement with WHO criteria. Moderate anemia was significantly more common in the oldest-old (p=0.01). The causes of anemia were iron deficiency in 10.6% of patients, other deficiencies in 2.8%, chronic diseases in 38.2%, hematologic neoplasms in 6.1%, multifactorial in 24.1%, and undetermined in 19.9%. The oldest-old have a higher frequency of multifactorial anemia (p=0.04), while hematologic neoplasms were more common in old patients (p=0.03). Most patients with undetermined anemia had mild/moderate forms. An anti-anemic treatment, mainly blood transfusion, was adopted in 100% of oldest-old patients and in 60% of old (p= 0.04). Anemia (and/or its treatment) was reported in the discharge letter in 19% of old and in 28.2% of oldestold patients. From a general point of view, physicians seem to disregard anemia in the context of more important pathologic conditions. In oldest-old patients, multifactorial anemia seems to be considered only "one more cause of disability." When borderline anemia occurs, even if it can represent a relevant adverse condition in frailty, it is poorly considered.