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95 with sudden hemoglobin drop
Mar 15, 2002

I have read your postings and am a little confused. Most speak of hemoglobin levels of 11 to 18 with 18 being at the high end. Does Canada have a different measure of hemoglobin than the US? My grandmother is 95, very healthy for her age. takes medication for high blood preasure and has blood test every few weeks to test thyroid. This last test showed hemoglobin at 60 (we were told it should be 120). She was sent to hospital for blood transfusion and check for bleeding ulcer (negative) and colonoscopy for cancer test (negative) She doesn't have pain, is not tired, carries on as if nothing is wrong, this seems to be a sudden drop since her last blood test. What could cause this? I'm worried.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Your grandmother is 95! Great! You guys must be doing something right up there in Canada! . . . besides playing hockey, that is.

As for your grandmother's hemoglobin readings, I'm assuming it's just a difference in where we place the decimal point. Your 120 normal range probably coincides with our 12 g/dL. If that's the case, then your 60 would correspond to our 6 g/dL, which means your grandmother was very anemic. The blood transfusion was needed to raise her hemoglobin level quickly. This should have put some color back in her cheeks and given her a boost of energy. The real question now is why was she so anemic. Yes, it's necessary to look for blood loss in the GI tract with the colonoscopy as well as search for other common causes. It's amazing she was carrying on as if nothing was wrong with such a low hemoglobin. Hope the blood test was checked to make sure it wasn't a laboratory error in the first place.

Next steps are a complete physical exam with her doctor, review of her medications, and probably more blood tests. The exact scope of this workup will depend on what the initial tests show. Your doctor will know what to do. This should not be a very difficult problem to sort out. Good luck to both of you and Granny!

Dr. Bob


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