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'Anemia LifeLine' Increases Awareness of Deadly Disease - 2002-02-28


Anemia is a serious medical problem that affects millions of Americans, but it is often misunderstood and frequently goes undiagnosed. A new national educational initiative to improve the lives of anemia sufferers in the United States will have a global impact as well.

The "Anemia LifeLine" program is designed to increase awareness, provide educational materials, encourage medical treatment, and promote understanding of the condition in which the body does not produce enough red blood cells. While the program is just starting up in the United States, doctors and medical organizations say it will have a global effect because anemia has no borders.

Harvard Medical Professor Dr. Ravi Thadhani said anemia spares no one. It affects people of different race, age, and ethnicity all over the world. Dr. Thadhani said, "You go to any part of the world, people who suffer from these chronic illnesses are at risk for anemia. So it's important that the message be certainly starting, which I believe is here, but the message is certainly going to be heard globally."

Chronic illnesses like cancer and kidney disease put people at higher risk of anemia. The condition causes extreme fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, pale skin and rapid heart beat. Patients often relate these symptoms to their illnesses but anemia is a separate condition needing separate treatment.

Michael Beckerich of the global biotechnology company Amgen says information on anemia is available worldwide, and his company is making sure awareness of the condition increases. "We'll certainly be able to develop this program," he said. "This is not something you're going to hear about today and never hear about again. This is a long-term commitment for us. We very much would like to extend this out to other regions and other areas of the world."

Anemia is treatable if diagnosed properly and in a timely manner. Because it deals with oxygen being carried to the body's vital organs and tissues, anemia can be a life-threatening condition if ignored. A simple blood test at a doctor's office can make a difference, and one of "Anemia Lifeline's" goals is for everyone to know this.