Background: Limited research has been performed that focused on the diagnosis of the underlying cause of anaemia of chronic disease (ACD) in general practice or on prevalence data of the underlying causes of ACD in general practice, although this is one of the most common types of anaemia.
Aim: To clarify the diagnostic strategies of GPs in patients newly diagnosed with ACD and to determine the most common underlying causes.
Design & setting: Retrospective cohort study.
Method: Patients newly diagnosed with ACD were selected based on laboratory criteria. ACD was defined as confirmed anaemia and ferritin levels above 100 mg/l combined with decreased iron and/ or reduced transferrin. Additional medical information on patients was obtained from the electronic medical files of the GP and/or the referral hospital.
Results: Of the 267 analysed patients with ACD, additional investigations were performed in 205 patients (77%); in 31 patients (12%) the cause was apparent at the time of diagnosis, and for 31 patients (12%) no additional investigations were requested. In 210 (79%) of the 267 patients, an underlying cause was established, with infection (n = 68, 32%), autoimmune disease (n = 51, 24%) and malignancy (n = 48, 23%) as the most frequently observed etiologies. In 35 (13%) of the ACD patients, oral iron supplementation was prescribed by the GP. This was mainly done in patients with severe anaemia or less enhanced ferritin levels.
Conclusion: For most patients with newly diagnosed ACD, the GP undertakes additional investigations to establish underlying causes. However, the cause of ACD remains unknown in a small proportion of patients. The use of oral iron supplementation in these patients requires caution.

, , , ,,
Department of General Practice

Schop, A, Stouten, K, Van Houten, R.J, Riedl, J.A, van Rosmalen, J.M, Bindels, P.J.E, & Levin, M.-D. (2018). Diagnostics in anaemia of chronic disease in general practice. BJGP Open, 2(3). doi:10.3399/bjgpopen18X101597