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Understanding Anemia -- the Basics

What Causes Anemia? continued...

Anemia Caused by Destruction of Red Blood Cells

When red blood cells are fragile and cannot withstand the routine stress of the circulatory system, they may rupture prematurely, causing hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia can be present at birth or develop later. Sometimes there is no known cause. Known causes of hemolytic anemia may include:

  • Inherited conditions, such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia
  • Stressors such as infections, drugs, snake or spider venom, or certain foods
  • Toxins from advanced liver or kidney disease
  • Inappropriate attack by the immune system (called hemolytic disease of the newborn when it occurs in the fetus of a pregnant woman)
  • Vascular grafts, prosthetic heart valves, tumors, severe burns, chemical exposure, severe hypertension, and clotting disorders
  • In rare cases, an enlarged spleen can trap red blood cells and destroy them before their circulating time is up.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD, PhD on May 13, 2013

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