Geriatric Anemia in PC

A Practical Approach to the Evaluation and Management of Geriatric Anemia in Primary Care

CME Information

Learning Objectives

After participating in this educational activity, participants should be better able to:

  • Differentiate among the etiological causes of anemia in geriatric patients
  • Develop appropriate workup of elderly patients with symptomatic anemia or anemia detected by incidental blood testing
  • Recognize signs/symptoms of bone marrow failure and hematologic malignancy as a cause of anemia
  • Incorporate strategies to manage elderly patients with anemia due to nutritional deficiency, blood loss, renal failure or suspected myelodysplasia (including appropriate referral to a specialist)



Anemia is common in the elderly population, but is neither normal nor harmless and may have far-reaching effects. While two-thirds of geriatric anemia cases are caused by nutritional deficiency or by chronic disease, a staggering 1/3 of cases are unidentified and may be due to a more ominous underlying condition such as occult myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Primary care practitioners (PCPs) need to be better aware of the etiology and workup of geriatric anemia in order to improve outcomes and provide optimal management of these patients including who and when to refer.

This activity is designed to guide PCPs through the differential diagnosis of geriatric anemia, specifically using mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and red blood cell distribution width (RDW), which are part of the standard complete blood count, to narrow differential diagnosis and guide subsequent evaluation. It will also reinforce learning from the live activity on the diagnosis and workup of geriatric anemia and to extend learning on bone marrow failure/ hematologic malignancy as an underlying cause of anemia.


This activity has expired and is no longer available for CME; however, we hope you still enjoy the education.

Published on December 2, 2014