Anemia and iron deficiency in heart failure: mechanisms and therapeutic approaches

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2011 May 31;8(9):485-93. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2011.77.


Anemia and iron deficiency are common in patients with heart failure (HF), and are associated with worse symptoms and adverse outcomes in this population. Although the two can occur together, anemia in HF is often not caused by iron deficiency, and iron deficiency can be present without causing anemia. Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents have been investigated extensively in the past few years and might be of benefit in patients with HF and anemia. However, concerns have arisen regarding the safety of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in patients with chronic kidney disease and so the results of a large mortality trial are eagerly awaited to provide information on safety in patients with HF. Iron supplementation or replacement is a much older treatment option for patients with HF and anemia, but questions about the safety of intravenous iron, and absorption problems with oral formulations have prevented its widespread use to date. In the past few years, however, new data on the importance of iron deficiency in HF have become available, and a number of studies with intravenous iron have shown promising results. Therefore, this treatment approach is likely to become an attractive option for patients with HF and iron deficiency, both with and without anemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / blood
  • Anemia / complications
  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / complications
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / blood
  • Heart Failure / complications*
  • Hematinics / adverse effects
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Iron Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Iron Compounds / adverse effects
  • Iron Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hematinics
  • Iron Compounds