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Woman presenting with chronic iron deficiency anemia associated with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia: a case report

Authors Stross P

Received 9 October 2012

Accepted for publication 13 March 2013

Published 18 November 2013 Volume 2013:5 Pages 203—210


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Paul Stross

Department of Haematology, St Richard's Hospital, Chichester, United Kingdom

Background: Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia is an autosomal dominant disorder associated with frequent nose bleeds that can be troublesome and difficult to contain. A further manifestation is telangiectasia, which may develop in the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract. The associated blood loss can be chronic, resulting in iron deficiency anemia which, when severe, has historically been treated by blood transfusions. Further pulmonary, neurologic, and hepatic complications may appear in later life, and are well documented. Administering blood transfusions requires provision, storage, and serological testing to select suitable units. Recognition of the inherent potential risks of donated blood, the expense, and the concerns regarding blood supply, has resulted in a national policy for conservation and appropriate use of blood. For an individual patient, there may be development of alloantibodies which complicates future cross-matching for transfusions.
Case report: SG is a 66-year-old Caucasian woman who first presented to our hematology department in 2003, having just moved to the area. She had suffered with nose bleeds since her teenage years and presented with a low hemoglobin level and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. Medical and nonmedical interventions failed to arrest the blood loss, which had not been massive or associated with hypovolemic shock. Pursuant to conserving blood supplies, and based on experience of patients with other causes of iron deficiency anemia, a regimen of high-dose iron supplementation was adopted. The aim was to sustain iron stores as a substrate for erythropoiesis and thereby achieve adequate hemoglobin levels whilst minimizing the need for blood transfusion.
Discussion: This approach has maintained the patient's hemoglobin levels at 6.4–11.6 g/dL over a period of 9 years. Until the time of writing in 2011, the maximum number of blood transfusions she has received in a year has been six, albeit there has been a steady slow increase since 2006. Her quality of life has been good throughout, with good levels of activity, a normal lifestyle, and no pain. The high-dose iron regimen is estimated to have avoided administration of up to 90 units of blood in 2011, at a saving to the National Health Service of at least £7000.

Keywords: iron deficiency anemia, hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, epistaxis, intravenous iron, low molecular weight iron dextran

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