Anemia and Iron Deficiency in Heart Failure — Clinical Update

DOI: 10.1515/jim-2017-0092


Iron deficiency and anemia affect approximately half of the chronic heart failure patients and they are associated with increased hospitalization rate, lower functional capacity, lower quality of life, and higher mortality. The exact mechanism of iron deficiency in heart failure patients is still not fully understood. Current guidelines recommend ferritin as the most accurate serum biomarker for the diagnosis of iron deficiency. The use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents is no longer recommended because of the lack of improvement on mortality or hospital readmission rate, and it was associated with a higher rate of thromboembolic events. Intravenous iron replacement therapy is safe and generally well tolerated, with fewer side effects compared to oral administration. Large randomized studies with ferric carboxymaltose demonstrated its effectiveness and superiority to oral administration, and it was associated with a decreased rate of hospitalization rate and worsening heart failure, and improvement of functional capacity and quality of life. Intravenous iron supplementation for chronic heart failure is strongly recommended by European guidelines. Further studies are needed for a better knowledge of this complex pathology and determination of the long-term safety and effectiveness of iron administration in chronic heart failure patients.