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Anaemia in people with chronic kidney disease

Anaemia in people with chronic kidney disease

Red blood cells carry oxygen using a protein called haemoglobin. A person develops anaemia when their levels of red blood cells are low and not enough oxygen gets to different parts of the body. Symptoms of anaemia include feeling tired and shortness of breath. Anaemia is often caused by a shortage of iron (called iron deficiency) because iron is used to make red blood cells.

In chronic kidney disease, anaemia is mainly caused by low levels of a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO for short). EPO is made by the kidneys and tells the body to make red blood cells. In someone with chronic kidney disease, their levels of EPO can be low, meaning their body doesn't make enough red blood cells, causing anaemia.

If you have chronic kidney disease and you're diagnosed with anaemia (see diagnosing anaemia in people with chronic kidney disease), at least one healthcare professional should have main responsibility for your care. You should have someone you can contact if you have any questions, and you and your family or carers should also be offered opportunities to learn more about the condition. The information you're given should be suitable for you and relevant to your individual and current circumstances. The key areas that should be covered include:

  • the causes, symptoms and treatment of the anaemia

  • the support available for you

  • living with anaemia (for example, advice on eating healthily, the benefits of exercising, and meeting others with the same condition).

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