This community-based study investigated anemia prevalence and certain hematologic features and their possible relationships to thalassemia and iron deficiency (ID) in a population of older people in Northeastern Thailand. Participants included 319 apparently healthy individuals ranging in age from 60 to 98 years, whose current health status was assessed by means of personal interviews. Blood samples were also collected to determine the following parameters: red blood cell indices, serum ferritin, C-reactive protein, hemoglobin profiles, and the α0-thalassemia gene. Based upon established WHO criteria, the overall prevalence of anemia was found to be 47.7%, increasing from 39% within the age group of 60-70 years to 68% in those >80 years. Factors considered to be significant contributors to anemia were classified as ID (3.6%), thalassemia (56.2%), and “unknown” (40.1%). Overall, only 2.4% of participants exhibited any ID. Hematologic changes appear to correlate with age. Our findings provide not only baseline information, potentially useful for implementing appropriate control measures, but also an enhanced awareness and understanding of the factors contributing to anemia among the elderly in the region.

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