Anaemia (anemia) – classification (microcytic, normocytic and macrocytic) and pathophysiology

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“Anemia can be defined as a reduced absolute number of circulating red blood cells. In practice a low hemoglobin concentration or a low hematocrit is most widely accepted definition for anaemia.

Red blood cells are the cells that carry oxygen around our body. Red blood cells also known as erythrocytes arise from myeloid progenitor cells in the bone marrow. Erythropoesis is the process of erythrocyte production. Myeloid progenitor cells become reticulocytes. This path is stimulated by hormones including erythropoietin. The reticulocyte enter blood stream 3 days later and matures to become a RBC in circulation. The mature RBC circulates for around 120 days, after which time it is removed from the circulation by the reticuloendothelial system.

When performing a FBC or CBC, looking at Hb is the first step in diagnosing anaemia. One way to categorise anaemia is be looking at the mean corpuscular volume. Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is the average size of a persons RBCs Therefore one way to categorize anaemia is using the MCV. You can have microcytic, Normocytic and marcocytic anaemia. Another way to classify anaemia is by looking at the pathophysiology.”

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