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  • About Anemia

  • About Anemia


    Anemias are a set of diseases that stem from an abnormally low hemoglobin content. Hemoglobin is the molecule used by the blood to bind and transport oxygen. When there is a decreased amount of this molecule, the blood has a concomitantly diminished ability to transport oxygen. This generally results in hypoxemia (decreased blood oxygen content) and hypoxia (decreased blood delivery to the tissues). Sickle cell anemia is one of the most congenital disorders affecting the African and African-American populations. Symptoms are more evident when the person physically exerts himself or herself.

    Hypoventilation from decreased rate of respiration or from high altitudes is not classified as an anemic disorder.

    Pernicious Anemia

    Pernicious anemia is characterized by incomplete development of red blood cells (RBCs) due to vitamin B12 deficiency. This lack in vitamin B12 can occur through dietary malnutrition, an autoimmune disorder, genetic disease, or ileal resection (surgical removal of distal portion of small intestine).

    Intrinsic factor is a chemical secreted by the parietal cells of the stomach. This factor is responsible for binding vitamin B12 and aiding absorption in the small intestine. Antibodies that destroy the parietal cells, or defective parietal cells, can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency. The parietal cells are also responsible for secreting the hydrochloric acid (HCl) of the stomach that aids in disinfection and digestion. In pernicious anemia, there may also be digestive problems associated with poor acid secretion.

    Sickle Cell Anemia

    Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is an autosomal recessive disorder that affects the structure of hemaglobin (Hb). In low oxygen levels, the mutant hemaglobin molecules clump and the red blood cells (RBC) are deformed into a sickle-like shape. This differs from their normal doughnut shape. Sickle cell RBCs become trapped in capillary walls, causing pain and possibly damaging organs.

    Although this disease can affect practically any ethnicity, sickle cell anemia predominantly occurs in the African-American population. One in ten African-Americans is a carrier of the defective gene.


    Thalassemia arises from the incomplete formation of hemoglobin's quaternary structure due to a defect in one or more subunits.

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