Therapy with recombinant human erythropoietin reduces cardiac size and improves heart function in chronic hemodialysis patients

Am J Nephrol. 1991;11(1):54-60. doi: 10.1159/000168273.


The substitution of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) in chronic hemodialysis patients is often associated with the development of severe hypertension. In the present study, a systematical echocardiographic analysis was performed in 25 patients on maintenance hemodialysis during rhEPO therapy for at least 4 months. Referred to the total group, indices of left ventricular size decreased significantly. Left ventricular total volume and left ventricular mass were reduced considerably. Fractional fiber shortening and ejection fraction showed an impressing improvement. At a constant heart rate, stroke volume and cardiac output were reduced. Myocardial thickness did not alter under chronic rhEPO therapy. When subgroups were formed with respect to changes in blood pressure, all parameters investigated behaved very similar to the total group, irrespective of changes in blood pressure. Five patients with coronary heart disease and clinical signs of myocardial insufficiency were evaluated separately. These patients showed a decrease in left ventricular size and no evidence of a deterioration of myocardial function. We conclude from our results that rhEPO therapy in patients on maintenance renal replacement therapy has beneficial effects on left ventricular size and function; these effects are not significantly counteracted by the development of hypertension.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Cardiomegaly / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cardiomegaly / prevention & control
  • Erythropoietin / adverse effects
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Renal / chemically induced
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Recombinant Proteins / adverse effects
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Ventricular Function, Left / drug effects*


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin