Iron Anemia, and/or Anemia of Inflammation and Chronic Disease?

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What is anemia of inflammation and chronic disease (AI/ACD)?

Anemia of inflammation and chronic disease is a type of anemia that commonly occurs with chronic, or long term, illnesses or infections.  Cancer and inflammatory disorders, in which abnormal activation of the immune system occurs, can also cause AI/ACD.

AI/ACD is easily confused with iron-deficiency anemia because in both forms of anemia levels of iron circulating in the blood are low.  Iron in the body is found both circulating in the blood and stored in body tissues.  Circulating iron is necessary for red blood cell production.  Low blood iron levels occur in iron-deficiency anemia because levels of the iron stored in the body’s tissues are depleted.  In AI/ACD, however, iron stores are normal or high.  Low blood iron levels occur in AI/ACD, despite normal iron stores, because inflammatory and chronic diseases interfere with the body’s ability to use stored iron and absorb iron from the diet.  AI/ACD is the second most common form of anemia, after iron-deficiency anemia.1

1Agarwal N, Prchal JT. Anemia of chronic disease (anemia of inflammation). Acta Haematologica. 2009;122(2–3):103–108.

 Who gets AI/ACD?

While AI/ACD can affect people at any age, older adults are especially at risk because they have the highest rates of chronic disease.  AI/ACD is also common among hospitalized patients, particularly those with chronic illnesses.

More than 130 million Americans live with at least one chronic illness.2  Addressing the causes of anemia in people with chronic disease can help improve their health and quality of life.

2Chronic diseases and health promotion. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Link Disclaimer. Updated August 13, 2012. Accessed July 24, 2013.

Source: Anemia of Inflammation and Chronic Disease | National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)


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