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Anemia in Diabetics Often Unrecognized, Undetected, and Untreated

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2003

Anemia significantly affects the quality of life in people with diabetes, but it often goes unrecognized and undetected and, therefore, untreated in many patients, reports a pan-European study.

Although anemia is a key indicator of renal disease, a significant complication caused by diabetes, most diabetics are not tested for anemia and remain unaware of an association between anemia and kidney disease.

To determine the level of understanding and awareness of anemia and its connection with diabetes, as well as to gauge the impact of anemia on quality of life, Paul E. Stevens, MD, Kent & Canterbury Hospital, United Kingdom, and colleagues interviewed 1054 diabetic patients from Belgium, Greece, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Along with demographic information, the questions focused on awareness of anemia, experience of tiredness and lethargy, effect of tiredness and lethargy on quality of life, and awareness of complications linked to diabetes.

Of the respondents, 83% had heard about anemia, but only 32% had received information related to it, and only 14% attributed anemia to diabetes. Overall, 132 of the 1054 (12%) patients were known to be anaemic, but a fifth of these patients received no treatment, whereas 12 were receiving blood transfusions, 5 erythropoietin therapy, 5 iron injections, and 92 iron tablets.

Of 756 respondents who experienced tiredness or lethargy, reduced quality of life was evident by reports of being down or depressed (21%), very down or depressed (17%), or feeling frustrated (17%).

Overall, patients responding to the questionnaire were unaware of the association between anemia and complications of diabetes. However, a large number reported a huge effect that the symptoms of anemia had on their quality of life. 

Source: Diabetes In Current Medical Research and Opinions 2003;19:5:395-401.

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