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Idiopathic aplastic anemia

  • Alternative Names

    Anemia - idiopathic aplastic


    Mild cases of aplastic anemia may require no treatment. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.

    In moderate cases, blood transfusions and platelet transfusions will help correct the anemia and the risk of bleeding. However, over time, blood transfusions may stop working. Too much iron may build-up in the body tissues may occur because of the many transfusions. See Hemochromatosis

    Severe aplastic anemia occurs when blood-cell counts are very low, and is a life-threatening condition. Bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant is recommended for severe disease in patients under age 40. However, their donor must be a brother or sister who is a good match. This is called a matched sibling donor.

    Older patients and those who do not have a matched sibling donor are given drugs that suppress the immune system, such as anti-thymocyte globulin. This medicine may allow the bone marrow to once again make blood cells. A bone marrow transplant with an unrelated donor may be tried if these medications do not help, or if the disease comes back after getting better.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Untreated, severe aplastic anemia leads to rapid death. Bone marrow transplant has been successful in young people, with long term survival rates of about 80%. Older people have a survival rate of 40 - 70%.

    • Severe infections or bleeding
    • Complications of bone marrow transplant (graft failure or graft-versus-host disease)
    • Reactions to medications (patients can have reactions to anti-thymocyte globulin)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider or go to the emergency room if bleeding occurs for no reason, or if bleeding is difficult to stop. Call if you notice frequent infections or unusual fatigue.