If you've recently spent time in the hospital after a heart attack, or other medical problem, you may want to get your red blood cell count checked. The fatigue or shortness of breath you're chalking up to your cardiac event or illness may be a symptom of anemia—low levels of red cells—from too much blood taken for routine blood tests during your stay.

A recent study looked at more than 17,000 heart-attack patients who were admitted to the hospital with normal blood counts. They found that one in five patients developed moderate to severe anemia while hospitalized. The anemic patients had more blood drawn than those who didn't develop anemia.

Researchers suggest hospital staff use smaller test tubes and order fewer tests when practical.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, published online 8/10/11; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 08 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 15 Jan 2015