What is the prognosis of pernicious anemia?

Updated: Feb 18, 2019
  • Author: Srikanth Nagalla, MD, MS, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

The disease is called pernicious anemia because it was fatal prior to the discovery that it was a nutritional disorder. The megaloblastic appearance of cells led many to speculate that it was a neoplastic disease. The response of patients to liver therapy suggested that a nutritional deficiency was responsible for the disorder. This became obvious in clinical trials once vitamin B12 was isolated.

Currently, early recognition and treatment of pernicious anemia provide a normal, and usually uncomplicated, lifespan. Delayed treatment permits progression of the anemia and neurologic complications. If patients are not treated early in the disease, neurological complications can become permanent. Severe anemia can cause congestive heart failure or precipitate coronary insufficiency.


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