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The Neurology of Anaemia
  1. Martin A. Samuels
  1. Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA


Anaemia is defined by the haemoglobin concentration in peripheral blood being below the normal 14 gm/dL (SD ± 2) for women, 16 gm/dL (SD ± 2) for men and 12 gm/dL (SD ± 2) for children. The number of red blood cells is also usually reduced, below the normal 4.8 × 106/mm3 (SD ± 0.6) for women and 5.4 × 106/mm3 (SD ± 0.9) for men. The haematocrit is the proportion of red blood cells in the blood – normally more than 40% for men and 37% for women. The other major red blood cell indices that may be helpful in the differential diagnosis of anaemia are:

  • the mean corpuscular volume (MCV), which is the average red blood cell size and is normally 87 u3 (SD ± 5);

  • the mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH), which is the amount of haemoglobin per cell, normally 29 pg of haemoglobin/cell (SD ± 2);

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