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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2005 Jul;20 Suppl 7:vii3-6.

Anaemia and heart failure: statement of the problem.

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Louis Edelstein Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Lady Davis Carmel Medical Center, 7 Michal Street, Haifa 34362, Israel.


While advances in treatment strategies and pharmacotherapy have produced a dramatic reduction in the mortality of patients with heart failure during the past 15 years, there is still a major challenge to improve patient well being, reduce hospitalizations and reduce mortality further. The prevalence of heart failure is not decreasing, and heart failure is currently a cause for hospitalization in >25% of admissions to internal medicine and cardiology departments. It has recently become apparent that anaemia is present in 20-30% of patients with heart failure, and the severity of anaemia has important implications regarding outcome and prognosis. Anaemia may be due to a number of causes, including iron and vitamin deficiency, insidious blood loss, haemodilution, renal impairment and bone marrow depression with resistance to erythropoietin. In the presence of a damaged heart and often coronary artery disease, anaemia may worsen contractile ability and systolic function, while the necessary volume load and ventricular hypertrophy which accompany anaemia contribute to diastolic dysfunction. Preliminary data show that appropriate treatment of anaemia, based on correction of the underlying cause, with, in most patients, the addition of exogenous erythropoietin and iron therapy, improves ventricular function and clinical status. Treatment of anaemia has opened a new frontier in the management of heart failure. We await the results of ongoing clinical trials for more detailed information regarding appropriate haemoglobin targets, choice of medication and dosing and the degree of improvement that may be expected when the issue of anaemia is properly addressed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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