Background: Anemia is a known risk factor for ischemic heart disease. Based on knowledge of the physiologic role of oxygen delivery to the myocardium, anemia may be a cause of more severe cardiovascular diseases or a marker of other processes occurring in the body that induce more severe disease.
Objectives: To investigate the relationship between anemia and the clinical picture of IHD, including manifestations, severity and complications.
Methods: The population studied comprised 417 similarly aged patients with IHD and anemia. The patients were categorized into subgroups of IHD according to disease severity: namely, angina pectoris, acute ischemia, acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure or cardiac arrhythmias. Two populations served as control groups: patients with anemia but no IHD (C-I) and patients with IHD without anemia (C-II). A standard anemia workup was conducted in all patients with IHD and anemia and a correlation was made between the hematologic parameters and the manifestations and complications of IHD.
Results: The common presenting symptom was chest pain in the study group and in C-II (94% and 86% respectively) and weakness (90%) in C-I. Patients with IHD and anemia tended to suffer from a more advanced degree of IHD (80%) compared to patients with IHD alone who had milder disease (46%). Hematologic values including hemoglobin, mean cell volume, serum iron and total iron-binding capacity correlated inversely with disease severity among anemic patients with IHD. There were significant differences between the study group and C-II regarding CHF (31% and 18% respectively) and arrhythmias (41% and 16% respectively). The mortality rate was higher in patients with IHD and anemia than in patients with IHD alone (13% and 4% respectively).
Conclusions: Anemia is a significant risk factor in IHD. It correlates with advanced IHD, CHF, rhythm disturbance and higher mortality rate. An aggressive therapeutic and preventive approach might improve the outcome of this disease.