Over a third (34%) of patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) are suffering from associated iron-deficient anaemia (IDA) which is not only exacerbating their condition but is also contributing to a poorer quality of life. In anticipation of European Heart Failure Awareness Day (6 May 2011), Vifor Pharma is taking the opportunity to raise awareness of IDA as a less-recognised and under-managed – yet treatable – side effect of heart failure.
Anaemia is characterised by a low blood count and means that the heart needs to work more efficiently to carry adequate oxygen around the body. Symptoms of anaemia including shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness and impairment of cognitive function, are similar to those of CHF and as heart failure progresses in patients, so does anaemia. In fact, anaemia complicating heart failure has been shown to be associated with a worse outcome for patients – and in community hospital admissions for heart failure, markers of anaemia were independently associated with an increased
risk of death.
However, recent research demonstrates that repletion of iron in CHF patients improves cognitive, symptomatic, and exercise performance. The trial, FAIR HF (Ferinject Assessment in patients with iron deficiency and chronic Heart Failure), which is the largest trial to date ever conducted to study the effects of anaemia in CHF, revealed that:
- 50% of CHF patients treated with Ferinject showed a significant improvement in their quality of life
- Patients receiving Ferinject® could walk 39 meters further than at baseline in a 6 minute walk test, compared to approximately 9 meters in the placebo group. The total difference between the patient group treated with Ferinject® and the placebo group was 35 meters at week 24
So, in conclusion the study shows that Ferinject is an I.V iron treatment that clearly reduces the day-to-day burden of symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and impaired physical function compared to placebo. However, despite the fact the medical profession accept that anaemia aggravates symptoms in patients with CHF, the condition is still frequently under-diagnosed and left untreated.
“There is no doubt that iron-deficient anaemia impacts the quality of life of CHF patients, preventing them from undertaking normal everyday activities such as walking which most people take for granted. Many CHF patients with associated IDA are not being diagnosed and treated efficiently and we are not currently optimising patients’ outcome or their quality of life.” comments Senthil Vel, Medical Director, Vifor Pharma UK Ltd.
European Heart Failure Awareness Day is a pan-European initiative designed to raise awareness of heart failure, including possible symptoms, the importance of an early and accurate diagnosis as well as receiving optimal treatment.