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Medication Guide


What is Anemia?
Anemia results from a lack of enough hemoglobin in a person’s blood.  There are a number of different types of anemia.  Some types present only mild health problems, while others can be severe. 

What is hemoglobin?
A complex iron protein substance found in your red blood cells.  Hemoglobin is unique because unlike water or plasma that also carry oxygen, hemoglobin increases by more than 50 times the amount of oxygen it can carry.

Why your body needs Hemoglobin
Like a car, your body needs fuel to run.  Hemoglobin, or Hb, is important because it transports oxygen in your blood to all parts of your body.  The oxygen carried by hemoglobin is like the fuel your body needs to stay alive and run efficiently

How hemoglobin fuels your body
Containing iron, hemoglobin is excellent transportation for oxygen and carbon dioxide.  Red blood cells fill air sacs of the lungs and take up oxygen.  The hemoglobin in the red cells combines with oxygen to form oxyhemoglobin.  The red cells then travel to the rest of the body and give up the oxygen to the tissues.  In the tissues, hemoglobin takes up carbon dioxide and releases into the air sacs of the lungs and we exhale it.

What causes Anemia?
Kidney Disease is one of the causes of anemia.  As a result over time, when your body cannot get enough oxygen to meet its needs, a person can become physically and mentally tired.  For this reason, your Nephrologist (kidney specialist) may initiate Anemia Therapy.

If your doctor has diagnosed you with anemia caused by chronic kidney failure, your kidneys may not be making enough erythropoietin (the hormone that tells the body to make red blood cells).  The result is a lack of a healthy amount of oxygen to your body.  A blood test will determine your hemoglobin (Hb) level.  If your level is too low, the treatments available are:

  • Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESA’s): These are medicines that act like natural erythropoietin.  They tell the body to make more red blood cells and are given as injections.  You can only get ESA’s from a doctor.
  • Iron Supplements: These can be taken alone or as part of ESA treatment.  These are taken in the form of a pill
  • Red blood cell transfusions: Usually done to treat sever anemia.  A small needle is placed in the blood vessel so the patient can receive blood.

If you are placed on Anemia Therapy by use of an ESA, it takes time for your body to make new red blood cells.  After you begin treatment, your hemoglobin level should go up in 2-6 weeks.  Your doctor will continually monitor your hemoglobin level.