The association between red cell distribution width, erythropoietin levels, and coronary artery disease

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Red cell distribution width (RDW) is a cardiac marker for risk stratification and prognostic evaluation of coronary artery disease (CAD); however, the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Erythropoietin (EPO), a crucial factor affecting erythropoiesis, has been reported to be a protective molecule regulating the process of myocardial ischemia and relevant damage. No study has as yet reported the relationship between RDW and endogenous EPO in CAD patients. This cross-sectional study aimed to establish the association between endogenous EPO levels and increases in RDW in CAD patients.

Patients and methods

Two hundred participants who underwent coronary arteriography were recruited from July 2015 to October 2015. The participants were divided into CAD and non-CAD groups on the basis of angiography diagnosis. Demographic data were obtained through personal interviews and general clinical methods.


RDW and EPO levels in the CAD group were higher than those in the non-CAD group. The correlation between RDW and EPO levels was statistically significant among CAD patients (r=0.411, P<0.001). The increases in EPO and RDW were related to the prevalence of CAD. The levels of RDW were correlated to endogenous EPO levels in CAD patients.


Increased EPO and RDW might be risk factors for CAD. Endogenous EPO levels are associated with increases in RDW in CAD patients.

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