What is esa medicines for anemia?

ESA Medicines for Anemia

Erythropoietin stimulating agents (ESA medicines) for anemia: Overview

Erythropoietin stimulating agents (also called ESA medicines) are used to treat anemia caused by severe kidney disease or chemotherapy for cancer treatment. They may also be used before surgery in some situations.

The kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin. It helps the body make red blood cells. If your kidneys don't make enough of the hormone, your body doesn't make enough red blood cells. Your red blood cell counts get low. This is called anemia. Having anemia can make you feel weak and tired. ESAs replace the hormone.

ESA is usually given as a shot under the skin or into a vein (I.V.).

What are some examples of erythropoietin stimulating agents (ESA medicines) for anemia?

Examples of ESA medicines include:

  • Darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp).
  • Epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit).
  • Methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta (Mircera).

What should you know about taking erythropoietin stimulating agents (ESA medicines) for anemia?

  • ESA medicines can help you feel better.
  • They can improve your appetite and energy.
  • You may need fewer blood transfusions.
  • ESAs cost a lot. Ask your doctor to help you find the dose that works best for you at the least cost.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist all the medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbal products, and supplements. Taking some medicines together can cause problems.
  • Make sure you see your doctor for blood tests. These tests help your doctor keep track of your red blood cell count.

What are some side effects of erythropoietin stimulating agents (ESA medicines) for anemia?

Side effects may include:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Having too many red blood cells. This may raise your risk for heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Deep vein thrombosis. This is a blood clot in a vein. A clot can be deadly if it travels to a lung.
  • Seizure.

Most people do not have side effects.

You may have other side effects or reactions not listed here. Check the information that comes with your medicine. ESA medicines may cause some cancers to grow or come back. And in some cases, they can shorten a person's life.

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