How is anemia defined?

Updated: Oct 08, 2018
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Anemia is strictly defined as a decrease in red blood cell (RBC) mass. The function of the RBC is to deliver oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs. This is accomplished by using hemoglobin (Hb), a tetramer protein composed of heme and globin. In anemia, a decrease in the number of RBCs transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide impairs the body’s ability for gas exchange. [1] The decrease may result from blood loss, increased destruction of RBCs (hemolysis), or decreased production of RBCs.


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