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Hematology
Internal Medicine

Iron deficiency common among elderly, even in non-anemic individuals

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There is a high prevalence of iron deficiency (ID) among older patients, regardless of whether they are anemic or not, according to a study that highlights the importance of recognizing ID as a significant health concern in this population, particularly in the presence of inflammation and impaired physical performance.

Early detection and management of ID are crucial to prevent adverse health outcomes in older patients.

The study included a total of 888 patients, with a mean age of 85.2 years, among whom 63.5% were women. The primary objective was to determine the prevalence of ID, defined by serum ferritin levels below 100 µg/L and/or a transferrin saturation coefficient (TSAT) below 20%.

A high prevalence of ID among older patients was found, with 57.6% (95% CI, 54.3-60.9) of the cohort affected. Interestingly, ID was found in both anemic and non-anemic patients, with rates of 62.6% and 53.3%, respectively (P = 0.0062).

The study highlighted significant associations between ID and various health indicators. Iron deficiency prevalence increased notably with the presence of >3 comorbidities, elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels (≥ 12 mg/L), and the use of treatments that may influence ID or anemia. In multivariate analysis, elevated CRP levels emerged as an independent predictive factor of ID.

Additionally, the study assessed the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) scores to identify older patients at high risk of adverse events. Results showed that patients with ID had significantly lower SPPB scores compared to those without ID (60.5% vs 48.6%; P = 0.0076), indicating a potential association between ID and physical performance decline.

Reference
Fougère B, Puisieux F, Chevalet P, et al; CARENFER PA study group*. Prevalence of iron deficiency in patients admitted to a geriatric unit: a multicenter cross-sectional study. BMC Geriatr. 2024;24(1):112. doi: 10.1186/s12877-024-04719-6. PMID: 38287253; PMCID: PMC10826072.

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