Prevalence was greater in females than males. The main causes are iron deficiency and hemoglobinopathies. The signs and symptoms induced by anemia are dependent upon the degree of anemia and the rate at which it has evolved, as well as the oxygen demands of the patient. Symptoms are usually shortness of breath, particularly on exertion, weakness, lethargy, palpitation and headaches. In older subjects, symptoms of cardiac failure, angina pectoris or intermittent claudication or confusion may be present.
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia affecting about 500 million people worldwide. Chronic blood loss, especially uterine or from the gastrointestinal tract, is the dominant cause of iron deficiency. The use of large numbers of pads or prolonged periods suggests excessive uterine loss. As the iron deficiency develops, the patient may show the general symptoms and signs of anemia and also a painless glossitis, angular stomatitis, brittle nails and unusual dietary cravings. It is treated by oral or parenteral iron and by treating, as far as possible, the underlying cause.