Study: Elderly with anemia have higher risk of disabilities

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About 1 in 10 older adults in Italy are anemic, raising their risk of disability, according to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study could have wider implications for elderly elsewhere, researchers said.

"Physicians should be aware of their older patients' anemia status, even if there is no apparent disease," said lead author Dr. Brenda W. J. H. Penninx from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

Penninx and her team measured specific levels of hemoglobin in 1156 older adults living in the Chianti region in Italy. They found that 11.1% of men and 11.5% of women were anemic. Participants with anemia had an average of two disabilities, whereas non-anemic people averaged about one.

Those with anemia scored significantly worse on physical performance, leg strength and handgrip strength, compared with their non-anemic counterparts.