Anaemia and the brain

I have come across research claiming that anaemia, such as some categories of blood cancer can produce, leads to mild loss of memory performance and other brain sharpness. Has anyone been advised that this is a risk, or got any evidence relating to it? The 2 or 3 people I have known with severe anaemia seemed free of brain problems. Jumbo4.

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A good question @jumbo4.
I have never heard of that connection, myself.
I think my memory is definitely not as sharp as it was, but I put that down to my mature age.
Since diagnosis I definitely do not deal with what personally stresses me as well and I think that does not help my memory either, it all gets too much.
I think ‘chemo brain’ is definitely talked about.
I will copy this to @GemmaBloodCancerUK and @LauranBloodCancerUK the Blood Cancer UK nurse advisors in case they can add something.
I await the thoughts of others.
Look after yourself

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Hi @jumbo4. I am interested in the questions you raise. My experience is that I have constant anaemia due to myelofibrosis and require regular transfusions of red blood cells. It has been explained to me that because the red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, this means that at times I will have less oxygen getting to the brain. I do suffer with what I describe as ‘brain fog’ and my GP reassured me that this was to be expected due to my ongoing anaemia. I am not a doctor or a scientist but I hope this makes some sense! I await the views of others. Warm wishes. Willow

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Dear @jumbo4, this is a very interesting question and very much worth discussion. There are cognitive changes that can be called ‘Chemo Brain’ which is well documented by Macmillan https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/impacts-of-cancer/chemo-brain and Cancer Research Chemo brain | Cancer in general | Cancer Research UK. Blood Cancers and Blood Cancer Treatments can lead to these symptoms due to the intensity of the treatments, the stress surrounding diagnosis/treatment and altered blood counts which can include anaemia.
Do call if you would like to discuss.
Kind regards
Gemma

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I had never ears of that. I am not sure what you mean by severe anemia, but when I was treated for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia 25 years ago my haemoglobin went down below 80 several time. He bone marrow did recover but never went back to normal.
I have been considered anemic since with haemoglobin hovering around 120.
Recently I was treated for bladder cancer and my haemoglobin went down to 89 and now recover to 115. I never felt of any lost of memories or brain sharpness.
Hope this help

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Thanks Norman. Your memories are useful…Have you ever had Covid? I have seen publications that report anaemia giving a tough time to patients with Covid (presumably Delta variant, as the papers pre dated Omicron).

Jumbo

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Thanks to everyone for their help. One last point;-- do anaemic people suffer disadvantage when Covid allocates us our share of brain fog? Jumbo

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I will copy your post to the Blood Cancer UK nurse advisors @GemmaBloodCancerUK @LauranBloodCancerUK @Heidi_BloodCancerUK and others might have experiences.
Take care of yourself