Hemolytic anemia is a common side effect of Ribavirin. (hemoglobin <10 g/dL)
Just like a car, your body needs fuel to run. Hemoglobin, or Hb, is important because it transports oxygen in your blood to all parts of your body. Think of the oxygen carried by hemoglobin as the fuel your body needs to stay alive and run efficiently. Hemoglobin is a substance found in your red blood cells that carries most of your oxygen. Although other substances in your body, such as water and plasma, also carry oxygen,
hemoglobin is unique because it can carry four times as much oxygen throughout the body.
Anemia is caused by low levels of red blood cells, or hemoglobin, in your blood. A severely anemic person’s blood cannot carry enough oxygen to meet the needs of the body tissues. As a result, over time the person becomes tired physically and mentally, and feels cold. When on interferon and ribavirin treatment for Hepatitis C, a
reduction in hemoglobin very commonly occurs and in most cases, it is maintained at levels below the normal laboratory ranges, returning to normal after treatment is completed or stopped. Anemia is an expected side effect of treatment with interferon and ribavirin.
Heart attacks are the most server side effect of Ribavirin due to anemia. Cardiac disease may be worsened by drug induced anemia, patients with a history of 274 significant or unstable cardiac disease should not use Ribavirin.
For safety information about Ribavirin and PegINF go to MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.
My understanding is that the brain gets the oxygen first, so it's the other parts of the body that tend to suffer most in cases of anemia. Thank goodness tx anemia doesn't sacrifice brain cells -- otherwise, as anemic as my husband has been on treatment, he'd probably have forgotten his own name by now! ~eureka
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