Blood Disorders in the Elderly

  • Nages Nagaratnam
  • Kujan Nagaratnam
  • Gary Cheuk


Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are responsible for the production and replenishment of blood cells of all types throughout life. The stem cell niches which are composed of stromal cells are vital for adult haematopoiesis. With increasing age the haematopoietic system undergoes substantial changes. With age there are striking changes in functional capacity and quantity of blood cells with decreased competence of the adaptive immune system, elevated incidence of age-associated anaemia and increased haematological malignancies. Anaemia is common in the elderly and its prevalence increases with age. About one-third have anaemia due to deficiencies in iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 and another third due to anaemia of chronic diseases, and the remaining is unexplained anaemia. An elderly presenting with iron deficiency is almost exclusively due to blood loss from the gastrointestinal tract. Many old people suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. There are three groups of haematological neoplastic disorders in the elderly and increasing in incidence with advancing age, namely, myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukaemia, multiple myeloma and chronic lymphatic leukaemia. The chronic myeloproliferative, chronic lymphoproliferative and immunoproliferative disorders are reviewed.


Haematopoietic stem cells Haematopoiesis Stem cell niches Anaemia Haematological neoplastic disorders 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nages Nagaratnam
    • 1
  • Kujan Nagaratnam
    • 2
  • Gary Cheuk
    • 3
  1. 1.Sydney Medical School (Westmead)The University of SydneyNorth RocksAustralia
  2. 2.Norwest Specialist Medical GroupBella VistaAustralia
  3. 3.Blacktown-Mt Druitt HospitalBlacktownAustralia

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