Effect of erythropoietin on cardiovascular diseases

Am J Kidney Dis. 2001 Oct;38(4 Suppl 1):S20-5. doi: 10.1053/ajkd.2001.27391.


Cardiac diseases account for almost 50% of deaths in long-term dialysis patients. Left ventricular dysfunction is present in approximately 80% of these patients and is highly predictive of future ischemic heart disease, cardiac failure, and death. Anemia has been identified as one of several risk factors responsible for cardiac complications. Cardiovascular consequences of renal anemia begin relatively early in the course of renal failure and progress with the decline of renal function and also during dialysis therapy. In chronic renal failure patients with severe anemia (hemoglobin levels <10 g/dL), increased cardiac output, high left ventricular mass, left ventricular end-diastolic and end-systolic diameters, and cardiac symptoms improve after partial correction of anemia (hemoglobin levels >11 g/dL according to the European Best Practice Guidelines). It is disappointing that normalization of hemoglobin levels has only minor effects with respect to regression of left ventricular hypertrophy and left ventricular dilation. There is no benefit of hemoglobin normalization on all-cause mortality of dialysis patients or on survival of end-stage renal disease patients with congestive heart failure or ischemic heart disease. Therefore, prevention of renal anemia may be more efficient than its treatment. Hypertension is one of the major side effects of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) therapy. Multiple factors are involved in rHuEPO-induced hypertension. High blood pressure can usually be controlled readily in the majority of the patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Anemia / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Erythropoietin / adverse effects
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use*
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / chemically induced
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Renal Dialysis


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin