Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the prognostic importance of plasma erythropoietin (EPO) levels in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients.
Background: Anemia is common and is associated with an impaired survival in patients with CHF. Erythropoietin is a hematopoietic growth factor, upregulated in anemic conditions. Little is known about the pathophysiology of anemia in CHF and the prognostic importance of plasma EPO levels in CHF patients.
Methods: In 74 patients with CHF (age, 61 +/- 2 years; left ventricular ejection fraction, 0.31 +/- 0.01; peak oxygen consumption, 19.1 +/- 0.6 [mean +/- SEM]) and in 15 control patients, hemoglobin levels and plasma concentrations of EPO and brain natriuretic peptide were measured.
Results: During a mean follow-up of 3.0 years (range, 2.3 to 5.3 years), 22 patients (30%) died. Anemia was present in 24% of the patients. Multivariate analysis showed that plasma EPO (p = 0.026) and hemoglobin levels (p = 0.005) were independent predictors of survival in this CHF population. We observed only a mild inverse correlation between the logarithm of EPO and hemoglobin levels (r2 = 0.08, p = 0.02) in CHF patients, whereas the control group showed a clear significant inverse correlation (r2 = 0.44, p = 0.007).
Conclusions: Elevated plasma EPO levels are associated with an impaired prognosis independent of hemoglobin levels and other established markers of CHF severity. Furthermore, in the CHF patients, EPO levels poorly correlate with the hemoglobin levels, in contrast with the control group.