Iron infusion may reduce hospital admissions for heart failure, study finds

Receiving an iron infusion every one to two years could help people with heart failure avoid hospitalization, new research suggests.

Almost a million people in the UK live with heart failure, where the heart cannot pump blood around the body as well as it should, and can face long hospital stays if their symptoms worsen.

Up to half of people with heart failure also have low iron levels, which has been linked to worsening symptoms, poorer quality of life and an increased risk of hospitalization and death, a said the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

In the study, funded by BHF, 1,137 people with heart failure and low iron levels received either intravenous iron infusions or their usual care.

Researchers found that iron infusions reduced the risk of hospitalization due to heart failure and death from a heart-related cause by 18% compared with usual care.

People who received iron infusions also reported better quality of life at four months.

Professor Paul Kalra, Honorary Clinical Lecturer at the University of Glasgow and Consultant Cardiologist at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, led the Ironman study.

He said: “The Ironman trial shows for the first time the benefits and long-term safety of intravenous iron treatment in heart failure, adding to the growing evidence of its favorable effects.

“We should now recommend that, in people with heart failure, regular assessment of iron status should be carried out and treatment given if iron deficiency is detected. The time has come to update national clinical guidelines.

“Despite great advances in treatment and care over the past decades, many people with heart failure still experience symptoms that impact their daily lives and hospitalization rates remain high.

“We have shown that a single 60-minute treatment, repeated as needed, can be enough for most people with heart failure to increase their iron levels, help improve their well-being and prevent them from going to heart failure. the hospital.

“Treatment with intravenous iron can make a real difference for patients, and this is in addition to our other treatments.”

BHF said around one in 10 people will die in hospital for heart failure in the UK.

Drip system

Patients received intravenous iron infusions (Alamy/PA)

In the study, which looked at data from August 2016 to October 2021, participants visited the hospital every four months where their iron levels were measured, and those in the iron group received an infusion by intravenous infusion if their levels were low.

People taking part in the study, published in The Lancet, were followed for an average of 2.7 years.

The majority (78%) of the iron group received only one or two intravenous infusions of iron during this period.

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted the trial as it affected people’s ability and willingness to travel to hospitals, meaning some patients may have missed an iron infusion.

For this reason, the researchers also looked at data from the 1,063 people who were in the trial before March 31, 2020, and whose treatment would not have been as affected by the pandemic.

This analysis showed a greater benefit of iron infusions over usual care, with a 24% lower risk of hospitalization due to heart failure and death from a heart-related cause in the group receiving iron compared to to usual care.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, BHF Medical Director, said: “Heart failure is a debilitating condition, often requiring recurrent and prolonged hospitalizations.

“At a time when the NHS is under more pressure than ever, this simple, inexpensive treatment not only helps heart failure patients feel better, but by reducing the need for hospitalization, it can also free up time. and additional beds to help tackle the growing backlog. heart care.

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