NURS 6521N – Anemia Pathophysiology

NURS 6521N – Anemia Pathophysiology

NURS 6521N – Anemia Pathophysiology Sample Solution


Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin (Huether & McCance, 2015). Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If there are too few or abnormal red blood cells, or the hemoglobin level is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will get enough oxygen. Symptoms of anemia occur because organs aren’t getting what they need to function properly.

Pernicious Anemia

Pernicious anemia is one of the vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia. It’s caused by an ability to absorb the vitamin B-12 needed for your body to make enough healthy red blood cells. Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient found in some foods. Individuals who have pernicious anemia can’t absorb enough vitamin B-12 from food. It is a megaloblastic anemia resulting from vitamin B-12 deficiency due to lack of intrinsic factor (Toh, 2017). The body needs this nutrient to make healthy red blood cells and to keep its nervous system working properly. When there is a deficit in vitamin B-12, the blood cells don’t divide normally and are too large.

This may cause the red blood cells difficulty with getting out of the bone marrow. When there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body, the individual may feel tired and weak. In pernicious anemia, vitamin B-12 is unavailable due to a lack of intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor is produced by the parietal cells of the stomach and is responsible for intestinal absorption of the vitamin. Intrinsic factor forms a complex with dietary vitamin B-12 in the stomach.

The complex remains intact, preventing degradation of the vitamin by intestinal juices, until it reaches the ileum of the small intestine, where the vitamin is released and absorbed into the body. When intrinsic factor is prevented from binding with vitamin B-12 or when the parietal cells are unable to produce intrinsic factor, the vitamin is not absorbed and pernicious anemia results.

NURS 6521N – Anemia Pathophysiology

Contributing Factors
This effect is thought to stem from an autoimmune reaction in which the malfunctioning immune system produces antibodies against intrinsic factor and against the parietal cells. Pernicious anemia occurs most often in persons over age 30, although a juvenile form of the disease does occur, usually in children younger than 3 years old. The disease shows a familial tendency and is more common in individuals of northern European descent (Pavord, Myers, Allard & Strong, 2012).

Treatment involves a monthly intramuscular injection of vitamin B-12 that must be continued for life.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency is the most common type of anemia, and it occurs you’re your body has a deficit of the mineral, iron. Iron is an important mineral because the body requires it to make hemoglobin (Cafasso & Nall, 2017). When there is not enough iron in the blood stream, the rest of the body cannot get the amount of oxygen it needs.


Iron-restricted erythropoiesis indicates that the delivery of iron to erythroid precursors is impaired, no matter how replete the stores (Weiss, 2005). Functional iron deficiency is a state of iron-poor erythropoiesis in which there is insufficient mobilization of iron from stores in the presence of increased demands, as is observed after treatment with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (Thomas, Hinchliffe, Briggs, Macdougall, Littlewood, & Cavill, 2013).

Contributing Factors

Inadequate dietary iron, impaired iron absorption, bleeding, or loss of body iron in the urine may be the cause (Hempel & Bollard, 2016). Dietary habits may also be a contributing factor. In women of childbearing age, the most common cause of iron deficiency anemia is a loss of iron in the blood due to heavy menstruation or pregnancy. A poor diet or certain intestinal diseases that affect how the body absorbs iron can also cause iron deficiency anemia.
Doctors normally treat the condition with iron supplements or changes to diet.

Cafasso, J., & Nall, R. (2017). Iron Deficiency Anemia. Healthline. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
Hempel EV, Bollard ER. The Evidence-Based Evaluation of Iron Deficiency Anemia. Med Clin North Am. 2016 Sep. 100 (5):1065-75.
McCance, K. L., & Huether, S. E. (2015). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (6th ed.). Maryland Hieghts, Mo.: Mosby Elsevier.
Pavord S, Myers B, Robinson S, Allard S, Strong J, UK guidelines on the management of iron deficiency in pregnancy. Br J Haematol 2012;156:588-600
Toh BH. Pathophysiology and laboratory diagnosis of pernicious anemia. Immunol Res. 2017 Feb. 65 (1):326-330.
Weiss G, Goodnough LT. Anemia of chronic disease. N Engl J Med 2005;352:1011-1023

NURS 6521N – Anemia Pathophysiology

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