Prognostic significance of endogenous erythropoietin in long-term outcome of patients with acute decompensated heart failure

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Although previous reports suggest that an elevated endogenous erythropoietin (EPO) level is associated with worse clinical outcomes in chronic heart failure (HF) patients, the prognostic implication of EPO in patients with acute decompensated HF (ADHF) and underlying mechanisms of the high EPO level in severe HF patients who have a poor prognosis remain unclear.

Methods and results

We examined 539 consecutive ADHF patients with EPO measurement on admission from our registry. During a median follow-up period of 329 days, a higher EPO level on admission was independently associated with worse clinical outcomes [hazard ratio (HR) 1.25, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06–1.48, P = 0.008], and haemoglobin level was the strongest determinant of EPO level (P < 0.001), whereas estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was not significant in multivariate regression analysis. In the anaemic subgroup of 318 patients, a higher EPO level than expected on the basis of their haemoglobin level was related to increased adverse events (HR 1.63, 95% CI 1.05–2.49, P = 0.028). Moreover, estimated plasma volume excess rate was positively associated with EPO level (P = 0.003), and anaemic patients with a higher than expected EPO level tended to have a higher estimated plasma volume excess rate and plasma lactate level, and lower systemic oxygen saturation level with the preservation of the reticulocyte production index than those with a lower than expected EPO level.


A high EPO level predicts long-term worse clinical outcomes in ADHF patients, independent of anaemia and impaired renal function. Anaemia and hypoxia due to severe congestion may synergistically contribute to a high EPO level in high-risk HF patients.

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