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Approach to Anemia: Learning Objectives

Medical Importance

Anemia is one of the most common problems encountered in clinical practice. Making a diagnosis of "anemia" is never sufficient. The cause of the anemia must always be determined; in some cases, the cause is a potentially life-threatening condition. Examination of the blood allows us to identify a problem and generate a list of possible causes, if not actually give the diagnosis outright.


  1. Identify the typical hemoglobin levels that define anemia in children/adolescents and post-pubertal men and women.
  2. List the signs and symptoms of anemia and distinguish between the symptoms of acute anemia with volume depletion and chronic anemia in the euvolemic state.
  3. Classify anemias according to the mean corpuscular volume.
  4. Classify anemias according to the reticulocyte count.
  5. List and describe the other laboratory examinations that can assist one in determining the etiology of the anemia.
  6. List factors that impair the normal reticulocyte response to anemia.
  7. Identify structural red cell abnormalities on a peripheral blood smear and to describe their clinical association