Understanding the causes of anaemia

There are different types of anaemia with different causes. Some people can become anaemic due to a poor diet or loss of blood. The condition can also be the result of an underlying illness such as chronic kidney disease (CKD) or cancer.

Damaged kidneys cannot produce enough of the hormoneerythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell production in the bone marrow. The process of producing new red blood cells falters and the blood can not deliver enough oxygen to the cells (Source: UK National Kidney Foundation).

Chronic kidney disease is primarily associated with ageing. The most common cause of CKD is damage caused by other long-term conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) (Source: NHS Choices). Many people with stage three, four and five chronic kidney disease develop anaemia (Source: NHS Choices).

Genetic factors make anaemia more prevalent among people of African and Asian descent. They have high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, resulting in higher levels of CKD than the general population (Source: NHS Choices).

Anaemia can also affect patients with cancer who are having chemotherapy treatment. A variety of factors are involved, including suppression of the production of red blood cells or a shortened cell life span.

At Roche, our insight into the causes of anaemia is integral to our ambition to develop even more personalised solutions to tackle the disease.