Anemia and heart failure

Curr Heart Fail Rep. 2004 Dec;1(4):176-82. doi: 10.1007/s11897-004-0006-7.


Over the past few years, anemia has emerged as a powerful independent predictor of adverse outcomes in chronic heart failure (CHF). It affects up to 50% of patients with CHF, depending on the definition of anemia used and on the population studied. Even small reductions in hemoglobin are associated with worse outcome. However, the causes of anemia in CHF remain unclear, although impairment of renal function and inflammatory cytokines are proposed mechanisms. Both may act through impairment of the synthesis or action of erythropoietin. Preliminary studies have demonstrated improvement in symptoms, exercise tolerance, quality of life, and reductions in hospitalizations when patients with severe CHF were treated with erythropoietin. The benefits and the potential risks of such therapies will be further addressed in upcoming larger randomized trials. The recent interest in anemia reflects a new perspective in heart failure therapy, focusing on non-cardiovascular comorbidities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anemia / drug therapy
  • Anemia / epidemiology*
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Anemia / physiopathology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / pharmacology
  • Erythropoietin / blood
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / blood
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Hemodilution
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors


  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cytokines
  • Erythropoietin