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Anemia is defined as a decrease in circulating red blood cell (RBC) mass; the usual criteria in adults being hemoglobin (Hgb) <12 g/dL or hematocrit (Hct) <36% for nonpregnant women and Hgb <13 g/dL or Hct <39% in men.
Anemia can be broadly classified into three etiologic groups: blood loss (acute or chronic), decreased RBC production, and increased RBC destruction (hemolysis). Anemia can also be categorized by RBC size as microcytic, normocytic, or macrocytic.