Anemia and iron deficiency in COPD patients: prevalence and the effects of correction of the anemia with erythropoiesis stimulating agents and intravenous iron

BMC Pulm Med. 2014 Feb 24;14:24. doi: 10.1186/1471-2466-14-24.


Background: Little is known about iron deficiency (ID) and anemia in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The purposes of this study were: (i) To study the prevalence and treatment of anemia and ID in patients hospitalized with an exacerbation of COPD. (ii) to study the hematological responses and degree of dyspnea before and after correction of anemia with subcutaneous Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs) and intravenous (IV) iron therapy, in ambulatory anemic patients with both COPD and chronic kidney disease.

Methods: (i) We examined the hospital records of all patients with an acute exacerbation of COPD (AECOPD) to assess the investigation, prevalence, and treatment of anemia and ID. (ii) We treated 12 anemic COPD outpatients with the combination of ESAs and IV-iron, given once weekly for 5 weeks. One week later we measured the hematological response and the severity of dyspnea by Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).

Results: (i) Anemia and iron deficiency in hospitalized COPD patients: Of 107 consecutive patients hospitalized with an AECOPD, 47 (43.9%) were found to be anemic on admission. Two (3.3%) of the 60 non-anemic patients and 18 (38.3%) of the 47 anemic patients had serum iron, percent transferrin saturation (%Tsat) and serum ferritin measured. All 18 (100%) anemic patients had ID, yet none had oral or IV iron subscribed before or during hospitalization, or at discharge. (ii) Intervention outpatient study: ID was found in 11 (91.7%) of the 12 anemic ambulatory patients. Hemoglobin (Hb), Hematocrit (Hct) and the VAS scale scores increased significantly with the ESAs and IV-iron treatment. There was a highly significant correlation between the ∆Hb and ∆VAS; rs = 0.71 p = 0.009 and between the ∆Hct and ∆VAS; rs = 0.8 p = 0.0014.

Conclusions: ID is common in COPD patients but is rarely looked for or treated. Yet correction of the ID in COPD patients with ESAs and IV iron can improve the anemia, the ID, and may improve the dyspnea.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Anemia / epidemiology*
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Deficiency Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Deficiency Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Deficiency Diseases / etiology
  • Female
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Iron / deficiency*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Hematinics
  • Iron