Anemia and iron deficiency in gastrointestinal and liver conditions.
Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is associated with a number of pathological gastrointestinal conditions other than inflammatory bowel disease, and also with liver disorders. Different factors such as chronic bleeding, malabsorption and inflammation may contribute to IDA. Although patients with symptoms of anemia are frequently referred to gastroenterologists, the approach to diagnosis and selection of treatment as well as follow-up measures is not standardized and suboptimal. Iron deficiency, even without anemia, can substantially impact physical and cognitive function and reduce quality of life. Therefore, regular iron status assessment and awareness of the clinical consequences of impaired iron status are critical. While the range of options for treatment of IDA is increasing due to the availability of effective and well-tolerated parenteral iron preparations, a comprehensive overview of IDA and its therapy in patients with gastrointestinal conditions is currently lacking. Furthermore, definitions and assessment of iron status lack harmonization and there is a paucity of expert guidelines on this topic. This review summarizes current thinking concerning IDA as a common co-morbidity in specific gastrointestinal and liver disorders, and thus encourages a more unified treatment approach to anemia and iron deficiency, while offering gastroenterologists guidance on treatment options for IDA in everyday clinical practice.