[Megaloblastic anemia: 30 cases in a district hospital].Schweiz Med Wochenschr 1995; 125(4):113-9SM
The high incidence of megaloblastic anemia observed at our institution (2.1% of hospital admissions) prompted us to analyze the causes of cobalamin and/or folate deficiency in 30 patients admitted during the period 1983-1991 to the Medical Department of Locarno District Hospital. The study population includes 19 women and 11 men with a mean age of 69 years (range 28-91 years). All patients had severe macrocytic anemia (mean hemoglobin 74 +/- 23 g/l, MCV 121 +/- 12 fl), striking megaloblastic changes in aspirated marrow, and an elevated serum level of LDH (2170 +/- 2150 U/l). 19 patients had associated thrombocytopenia, 12 leukopenia and 11 both thrombocytopenia and leukopenia. Treatment led to prompt reticulocytosis and correction of megaloblastic changes in all patients, as well as to nearly complete resolution of the neurologic disorder in a patient with severe spastic ataxia. In 15 patients, megaloblastic anemia was caused by folate deficiency related to alcoholism (n = 6, mean age 55 years) and old age or poverty (n = 9, mean age 73 years). Cobalamin deficiency was present in 9 patients (mean age 69 years); it was due to pernicious anemia in 6 patients and to malabsorption in 2, while the cause remained unexplained in 1. The last patients (mean age 76 years) had deficiency of both cobalamin and folate, related to alcoholism (n = 3) or poverty (n = 3).