Iron deficiency (with or without anaemia) is linked with adverse health outcomes, but especially so in patients with heart failure (HF).
In patients with HF, iron deficiency is frequent but overlooked, with a prevalence of 30-to-50 per cent. Since it contributes to cardiac and peripheral muscle dysfunction, iron deficiency is associated with poorer clinical outcomes and a greater risk of death, independent of haemoglobin level. Therefore, iron deficiency is now recognised as a therapeutic target of chronic HF in addition to chronic renal insufficiency, anaemia and diabetes.
Elaborating further on the causes and impact Dr. Dilip Kumar, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist and Chief academic co-ordinator, Medica Hospital, Kolkata said, “ID isn’t an uncommon phenomenon among the Indian population. In my clinical practice I see about 130 HF patients in a month, of which 60 have ID. Women are more prone to ID in HF, as compared to men. We have observed that ID in HF can also happen due to excessive blood loss in women, malnutrition and/or malabsorption of iron in the body among patients.”
Addressing the impact of ID in HF Dr. Suvro Banerjee, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital Kolkata said, “It’s crucial to keep a track of ID in a patient with HF or else it can result in flared up symptoms like shortness of breath, swelling in ankles, fatigue etc. It can also cause recurrent hospitalization and put the patient at a risk for other comorbidities as well. If not treated on time, ID can affect the overall quality of life of a HF patient.”
Commenting on the treatment options Dr. P.K Hazra, Interventional Cardiologist, AMRI Hospitals, Kolkata said, “Managing Iron levels is an important aspect of HF care and management. ID can be managed with either oral iron or Intravenous (IV) iron. Though the treatment mode can vary from patient to patient, IV iron has a better absorption rate among patients compared to oral iron. It has been observed over the years that ID can occur with or without anemia. This makes it imperative for HF patients to get their iron levels screened regularly.”
With recent advances in medicines, ID in HF can be effectively managed, along with some positive lifestyle changes. Good nutrition is the key to management. Adding foods rich in iron like Jaggery, Leafy vegetables, beans, etc. to your diet can help in managing the condition. It is also essential for an HF patient to adhere to the treatment protocol prescribed by the medical expert to avoid any treatment complication. Regular visits to the cardiologists can help the patient keep the condition in check.