BACKGROUND: Anemia is associated with high morbidity and mortality in older people. However, anemia in older individuals is not fully understood, and national data on the prevalence and characteristics of anemia in Korean older people are lacking. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence and characteristics of anemia in older adults using data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) , which is the nation-wide cross-sectional epidemiological study conducted by Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare.
METHODS: Data from the total of 62,825 participants of the 2007-2016 KNHANES were merged and analyzed to investigate differences in participant characteristics and potential risk factors for anemia.
RESULTS: The prevalence of anemia was higher in the population aged ≥65 years (older adults) than in the younger population. Anemia was also more prevalent among females than among males, but the difference was not statistically significant in people aged >85 years. Being underweight, receiving a social allowance, living alone, and having comorbidities such as hypertension, arthritis, diabetes mellitus (DM), cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, cancer, and chronic renal failure (CRF) were more prevalent in older adults with anemia than in the group without anemia. In the univariate and multivariate analyses, older age, female sex, underweight, and comorbidities including arthritis, DM, CVD, stroke, cancer, and CRF were associated with an increased risk of anemia. Furthermore, the prevalence data were significantly higher in this study than in previous studies.
CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed that age, female sex, underweight, and the presence of comorbidities such as arthritis, DM, CVD, stroke, cancer, and CRF were associated with an increased risk of anemia in Korean older adults. Our findings may be useful in developing interventions and programs aimed at healthy aging. Further study on causal relationships between anemia and other variables in the older population is necessary.