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|epoetin alfa||Epogen, Procrit|
Erythropoietin stimulating agents can be given two ways. They may be injected into a vein with an intravenous (IV) needle or injected under the skin (subcutaneous). Talk to your doctor about which way is best for you.
Erythropoietin stimulating agents cause the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells, and they decrease your need for blood transfusions. Anemia often occurs because of a decrease in erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys. Injections of erythropoietin stimulating agents replace this hormone.
Erythropoietin stimulating agents replace the erythropoietin normally made by the kidneys. Therapy with erythropoietin stimulating agents may be used to treat anemia:
Erythropoietin stimulating agents treat anemia by increasing the number of new red blood cells your body makes. This may decrease your need for blood transfusions. Your dose of an erythropoietin stimulating agent may need to be adjusted so that you can keep a certain red blood cell count or level.
Things that may make this therapy less effective include:
High blood pressure can develop during treatment with erythropoietin stimulating agents.
It may be dangerous to use erythropoietin stimulating agents to increase your red blood cell (hemoglobin) levels above 12 g/dL. Hemoglobin levels that are too high may increase your risk for death, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. Talk with your doctor about your concerns. And keep all your appointments for blood tests.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Most people do not have problems with erythropoietin stimulating agents. They can help improve how well you feel and increase your appetite, energy, and activity levels.
Erythropoietin therapy is expensive. Your doctor may need to make adjustments in your dose to find the amount that gives you the most benefit but costs the least.
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