Anemia and Iron Deficiency in Heart Failure: Current Concepts and Emerging Therapies

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Abstract

Anemia and iron deficiency are important and common comorbidities that often coexist in patients with heart failure. Both conditions, together or independently, are associated with poor clinical status and worse outcomes. Whether anemia and iron deficiency are just markers of heart failure severity or whether they mediate heart failure progression and outcomes and therefore should be treated is not entirely clear. Treatment of anemia in patients with heart failure with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents has been evaluated intensively during the past several years. Unfortunately, these agents did not improve outcomes but were associated with a higher risk of adverse events. Iron deficiency in patients with heart failure can be absolute, when total body iron is decreased, or functional, when total body iron is normal or increased but is inadequate to meet the needs of target tissues because of sequestration in the storage pool. Whereas iron replacement is appropriate in patients with anemia resulting from absolute iron deficiency, it has been unclear whether and how absolute or functional iron deficiency should be treated in nonanemic patients with heart failure. Recently, small studies found that administration of intravenous iron in patients with heart failure and absolute or functional iron deficiency with or without anemia improves symptoms and exercise capacity, but long-term outcomes and safety data are not yet available. In this review, we discuss the causes and pathogenesis of and treatment options for anemia and iron deficiency in patients with heart failure.

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