Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Aplastic anemia results from injury to the blood stem cells. These are immature cells in the bone marrow that give rise to all other blood cells types. The injury causes a decrease in the number of every type of blood cell. These cells are the red cells, white cells, and platelets.
Aplastic anemia can also be caused by certain medical conditions such as pregnancy or lupus. Exposure to certain toxins or medicines, including chemotherapy, can also lead to aplastic anemia.
Symptoms result from the bone marrow not being able to make new blood cells. Symptoms may be severe from the start or gradually worsen over time.
Low red cell count (anemia) can cause:
Fatigue Pallor(paleness) Rapid heart rate Shortness of breathwith exercise
- Lightheadedness upon standing
Low white cell count (leukopenia) causes an increased risk of infection.
Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) can result in bleeding. Symptoms include:
- Easy bruising
- Frequent or severe infections
- Nose bleeds
- Rash–small pinpoint red marks on the skin (petechiae)
Signs and tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam.
Blood tests will show:
red blood cell count(anemia)
white blood cell count
reticulocyte count(reticulocytes are immature red blood cell)
Mild cases of aplastic anemia may require no treatment. Symptoms are treated as needed.
If blood counts become lower, patients receive extra blood and platelets through transfusions. Over time, transfusions may stop working, resulting in very low blood cell counts. This is a life-threatening condition.
Older patients and those who do not have a matched sibling donor are given medicines to suppress the immune system. These medicines may allow the bone marrow to once again make healthy blood cells. But the disease may return (relapse). A bone marrow transplant with an unrelated donor may be tried if these medicines do not help or if the disease comes back after getting better
Untreated, severe aplastic anemia leads to rapid death. Bone marrow transplant is very successful in young people. It is also used in older patients or when the disease comes back after medicines have been tried.
Severe infections or bleeding
Complications of bone marrow transplant
Reactions to medicines
Hemochromatosis (buildup of too much iron in the body tissues from many red cell transfusions)
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider or go to the emergency room if bleeding occurs for no reason, or if bleeding is hard to stop. Call if you notice frequent infections or unusual fatigue.
Related:Bone marrow transplant – discharge, Anemia, Hemolytic anemia, Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, Toxins, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Thrombocytopenia, Acute, Chronic, Bone marrow transplant