It’s been a whole year since the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic began its rampage, forcing the world into lockdown and taking hundreds of thousands of lives. All of the leading governing bodies on health have emphasized that people with medical conditions and comorbidities are more likely to suffer severe illness from Covid-19. Then why has so little been said about anemia being a comorbidity that aggravates the severity of respiratory illnesses?
As a matter of fact, several studies suggest that “the prevalence of anemia was associated with poorer outcomes and increased mortality” in patients with pneumonia, another respiratory illness (Wiley). Anemic patients have low levels of hemoglobin, which serves as the transportation device of oxygen throughout the body to vital organs. A deficiency in hemoglobin can cause hypoxia - the deficiency of oxygen reaching the tissues, eventually resulting in multiple organ dysfunction and failure (NCBI). Since Covid-19 is a respiratory illness and often affects one’s ability to breathe easily, the lack of oxygen circulating the body and being delivered to the vital organs only exacerbates the effects of the illness and increases its severity. A study done in Wuhan, China at the start of the outbreak showed that Covid patients with anemia had severe inflammatory responses, which increased the severity of their illness (Wiley). Anemia has also been independently associated with mortality, ventilator requirement and ICU admission in an Iranian study that concluded that the prevalence of anemia in Covid patients was high (BMC Infectious Diseases).
Not only is anemia a risk factor for severe illness, many Covid patients develop anemia while in the ICU. Hematological abnormalities (aka disorders or abnormalities of the blood) are common features of the Covid-19 disease, and cause anemia in previously healthy individuals. Months after the onset of disease, many patients still had increased levels of inflammation markers associated with anemia and impaired physical performance. In a study published in October of 2020, 30% of subjects presented with iron deficiency 60 days after the onset of disease, and 9% presented with anemia (BMC Respiratory Research).
Considering that an estimated 24.8% of the global population suffers from some form of anemia, the Covid-19 virus has been able to do a lot of damage to an already vulnerable group of people. The BEAT team is working to touch the lives of those severely impacted by this virus. If you would like to help, please donate through our website or sign up to donate through Amazon Smile!
For more information regarding the studies discussed above, visit: