Anaemia in chronic heart failure: more awareness is required

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Abstract

Aims:

To determine the characteristics of anaemic patients, how well anaemia is investigated and its contributing factors in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF).

Methods:

Retrospective analysis of longitudinal data collected during routine management of patients admitted with CHF at an Australian tertiary hospital. One thousand and twenty-one patients admitted with CHF between 1997 and 2005 were included. Anaemia was defined as a haemoglobin concentration <110 g/L. Data were compared between anaemic and non-anaemic patients.

Results:

The prevalence of anaemia among patients with CHF was 20.3% in our study. These patients were more likely to be older, female, and have a higher prevalence of chronic renal failure and peripheral vascular disease. Despite previous studies reporting a higher mortality rate among CHF patients with anaemia, only 60% of patients had basic investigations for anaemia (i.e. iron studies, vitamin B12, folate and thyroid function testing). The cause of anaemia is usually multifactorial with 63.8% of patients having at least two factors contributing to their anaemia. Chronic renal failure, iron deficiency and anaemia of chronic disease were the most common contributors. These factors were not predicted based on abnormalities in mean corpuscular volume. Patients with anaemia had a longer length of stay in hospital.

Conclusions:

Anaemia in patients with CHF is common but not well investigated. The aetiology of anaemia is usually multifactorial and not easily predicted. Patients with anaemia and CHF have poorer outcomes. There needs to be more awareness among clinicians about the importance of investigating and treating anaemia in patients with CHF.

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