Impact of Correcting Nutritional Deficiency Anemias in the Elderly on Hospitalizations, Falls, and Mortalities

Tammarah Sklarz, Angelica Italiano, Naveen Menon, Caroline Correia, Elena Sharma, Samantha Wu, Krystal Hunter, Satyajeet Roy


Background: The incidence and prevalence of anemia increase with age, particularly in adults older than 65 years, and it is associated with a number of adverse health outcomes (AHO), particularly hospitalizations, falls and mortalities. Given that approximately one-third of these anemias are due to reversible causes, we studied whether the treatment of nutritional deficiency anemia (NDA), namely iron deficiency anemia (IDA), cobalamin deficiency anemia (CDA), and folate deficiency anemia (FDA), improves AHO; and explored whether each NDA had different AHO.

Methods: We reviewed electronic medical records of our internal medicine office patients aged 65 years or older, who had a diagnosis of anemia in a non-acute setting.

Results: Total 600 patients were included. Mean age was 75.2 years. Thirty-one point three percent had NDA (CDA 15.3%, IDA 12.3%, FDA 3.7%); and 68.7% had other anemias whom we categorized as non-nutritional deficiency anemias (NNDA), which included anemia of chronic disease (11.2%), myelodysplastic syndrome (6.2%), renal insufficiency anemia (5.7%) and unexplained anemia (45.6%). Even after adequate treatment, IDA group had significantly more hospitalizations (median, 25th - 75th: 2 (0 - 4) vs. 0 (0 - 1), P < 0.001), falls (median, 25th - 75th: 1 (0 - 3) vs. 0 (0 - 1), P < 0.001) and mortalities (10.8% vs. 3.4%, P = 0.011); CDA group had significantly more hospitalizations (median, 25th - 75th: 1 (0 - 2) vs. 0 (0 - 1), P = 0.007), but no difference in falls (median, 25th - 75th: 0 (0 - 1) vs. 0 (0 - 1), P = 0.171) and mortalities (7.6% vs. 3.4%, P = 0.083); and FDA group had significantly more hospitalizations (median, 25th - 75th: 1 (0 - 2) vs. 0 (0 - 1), P = 0.001), but no difference in falls (median, 25th - 75th: 0 (0 - 1) vs. 0 (0 - 1), P = 0.615) and mortalities (4.5% vs. 3.4%, P = 0.550), compared to the NNDA group. Age, Black race, higher number of comorbidities, presence of malignancy and use of direct oral anticoagulants were associated with increased odds of AHO in patients with NDA.

Conclusions: Compared to the patients with NNDA, patients with IDA had more hospitalizations, falls and mortalities even after adequate treatment; while patients with CDA and FDA had only more hospitalizations. Adequate treatment mitigated falls and mortalities in elderly patients with CDA and FDA.

J Hematol. 2021;10(6):233-245


Anemia; Elderly; Iron deficiency; Vitamin B12 deficiency; Cobalamin deficiency; Folate deficiency; Nutritional deficiency anemias

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