The need to screen for anemia in exercising women

Cory Dugan, Caitlin Scott, Sandy Abeysiri, Ravishankar Rao Baikady, Toby Richards

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4 Citations (Scopus)


ABSTRACT: Anemia is common, affecting 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. Despite high prevalence rates, awareness is poor. This is relevant for women undertaking sport as anemia can lead to reduced physical performance. There is no current screening program for testing of anemia for exercising women. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to assess a simple screening tool to predict anemia in exercising women.Cross sectional survey study.National fitness festival.Three hundred exercising women.Screening methodology (Female Health Questionnaire and a haemoglobin concentration measurement).The Female Health Questionnaire inquired about; previous iron status, menstrual blood loss, diet, and motherhood. Participants were asked to self-report any symptoms of iron deficiency, including; brain fog, palpitations, shortness of breath, restless legs, hair loss, and pica. Results were compared to fingerprick haemoglobin levels with anemia defined as [Hb] < 120 g/L.Average age was 31.21years (s.d.7.72), average [Hb] was 131.76 g/L (s.d.11.5) and 36 (12%) had anemia. A history of iron deficiency was reported by 127 (43.49%), 127 (43.49%) reported heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB), 75 were vegetarian (18%) or vegan (8%) and 33 were mothers (11%). In total 80 reported taking time off work (total 1612 days). Women with anemia more commonly reported HMB (58.33% vs. 41.57%, P = .04), and those with HMB were more likely to report days off (39.37% vs. 18.18%, P < .001).Anemia was common in exercising women, particularly those with HMB. A simple screening tool for HMB and finger prick haemoglobin testing for anemia is recommended in women undertaking exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere27271
Number of pages7
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

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