Should I routinely screen my patients with heart failure for iron deficiency?

Even in the absence of anemia, screening for iron deficiency (ID) has been recommended in patients with heart failure (HF) with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) by some European and Australia-New Zealand cardiology societies. 1

In contrast, the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association/Heart Failure Society of America guidelines do not mention routine screening for ID in such patients but instead state (under “Anemia”) that in patients with NYHA class II and III HF and ID (ferritin < 100 ng/mL or 100 to 300 ng/mL plus transferrin saturation <20%), IV iron replacement “might be reasonable” to improve functional status and quality of life (IIb-weak recommendation).2

As these guidelines are primarily based on data derived from patients with HFrEF, whether patients with HF with preserved (eg, >45%) ejection fraction (HFpEF) should undergo routine screening for ID is even less clear due to conflicting data based on limited small studies 3,4

What is known is that up to 50% or more of patients with HF with or without anemia may have ID. 5 Although most studies involving ID and HF have involved patients with HFrEF, similarly high prevalence of ID in HFpEF has been reported. 6,7

A 2016 meta-analysis involving patients with HFrEF and ID found that IV iron therapy alleviates HF symptoms and improves outcomes, exercise capacity and quality of life irrespective of concomitant anemia; all-cause and cardiovascular mortality rates were not significantly impacted, however.8  

Fortunately, larger trials in the setting of acute and chronic systolic HF are underway (Affirm-AHF, 9 IRONMAN 10).  Stay tuned!

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that iron deficiency directly affects human cardiomyocyte function by impairing mitochondrial respiration  and reducing its contractility and relaxation?11

References

  1. Silverberg DS, Wexler D, Schwartz D. Is correction of iron deficiency a new addition to the treatment of the heart failure? Int J Mol Sci 2015;16:14056-74. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4490538/
  2. Yancy CW, Jessup M, Bozkurt B, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/HFSA focused update of the 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure. Circulation 2017;136:e137-e161. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000509
  3. Kasner M, Aleksandrov AS, Westermann D, et al. Functional iron deficiency and diastolic function in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. International J of Cardiol 2013;168:12:4652-57. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23968714
  4. Enjuanes C, Klip IT, Bruguera J, et al. Iron deficiency and health-related quality of life in chronic heart failure: results from a multicenter European study. Int J Cardiol 2014;174:268-275. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24768464
  5. Drodz M, Jankowska EA, Banasiak W, et al. Iron therapy in patients with heart failure and iron deficiency: review of iron preparations for practitioners. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs 2017;17:183-201. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28039585
  6. Bekfani T, Pellicori P, Morris D, et al. Iron deficiency in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and its association with reduced exercise capacity, muscle strength and quality of life. Clin Res Cardiol 2018, July 26. Doi: 10. 1007/s00392-018-1344-x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30051186
  7. Nunez J, Dominguez E, Ramon JM, et al. Iron deficiency and functional capacity in patients with advanced heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. International J Cardiol 2016;207:365-67. https://www.internationaljournalofcardiology.com/article/S0167-5273(16)30185-1/abstract
  8. Jankowska EA, Tkaczynszyn M, Suchocki T, et al. Effects of intravenous iron therapy in iron-deficient patients with systolic heart failure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Heart Failure 2016;18:786-95. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26821594
  9. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02937454
  10. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02642562
  11. Hoes MF, Beverborg NG, Kijlstra JD, et al. Iron deficiency impairs contractility of human cardiomyoctyes through decreased mitochondrial function. Eur J Heart Failure 2018;20:910-19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29484788  

 

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Should I routinely screen my patients with heart failure for iron deficiency?

Which non-pharmacological approaches may help symptoms of orthostatic hypotension in my patient with autonomic insufficiency?

A number of simple measures to help reduce the symptoms of neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH) in susceptible patients have been recommended.1

  • Blood volume repletion (a minimum of 64 oz or 2L of water intake daily), depending on cardiac status. In addition, rapid consumption (within 5 min) of 16 oz or 500 ml of water can raise blood pressure by 30 mmHg for about an hour. It’s worth noting that liquids other than water (eg, water plus salt) do not provide the same BP response, likely due to water-induced hypo-osmolar reflex in the portal circulation.2,3
  • Increase salt intake if possible (eg, add 1-2 teaspoons or 2.3-4.6 g of salt per day), as many patients with nOH have an inadequate salt intake.
  • Improve physical conditioning that is not gravitationally challenging (eg, stationary recumbent bicyle, rowing machine).
  • Avoid increased core body temperature (eg hot tubs, prolonged hot showers).
  • Head-up position while sleeping through use of a wedge under the mattress or blocks under the head of the bed so that the head is 6-9 inches (15-23 cm) higher than the feet. This is to minimize nocturnal supine hypertension which can cause pressure diuresis and volume depletion.
  • Compressive garments, preferably either an abdominal binder or thigh high stockings when erect; knee high stocking are not likely to be effective.
  • Smaller, more frequent,  meals not high in carbohydrates in patients with postprandial hypotension.
  • Dietary supplementation with B12 or iron, if deficient.

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References

  1. Gibbons CH, Schmidt P, Biaggioni I, et al. The recommendations of a consensus panel for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of neurogenic orthostatic hypotension and associated supine hypertension. J Neurol 2017;264:1567-1582. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28050656
  2. Jordan J, Shannon JR, Black BK, et al. The pressor response to water drinking in humans: a sympathetic reflex? Circulation 101:504-9. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/101/5/504.long
  3. Raj SR, Biaggioni I, Black BK, et al. Sodium paradoxically reduces the gastropressor response in patients with orthostatic hypotension. Hypertension 2007;48:329-334. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16785332
Which non-pharmacological approaches may help symptoms of orthostatic hypotension in my patient with autonomic insufficiency?

What could be causing low serum haptoglobin in my patient with no evidence of hemolysis?

 

There are many causes of low serum haptoglobin besides hemolysis, including1-4:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Disseminated ovarian carcinomatosis
  • Pulmonary sarcoidosis
  • Elevated estrogen states
  • Repetitive physical exercise
  • Hemodilution
  • Blood transfusions
  • Drugs (eg, oral contraceptives, chlorpromazine, indomethacin, isoniazid, nitrofurantoin, quinidine, and streptomycin)
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Megaloblastic anemia (by destruction of megaloblastic RBC precursors in the bone marrow)
  • Congenital causes

Less well-known is that congenital haptoglobin deficiency (“anhaptoglobinemia”) may not be so rare in the general population at a prevalence of 1% among whites and 4% among African-Americans (>30% in blacks of West African origin)3. Measurement of serum hemopexin, another plasma protein that binds heme, may help distinguish between this condition and acquired hypohaptoglobinemia— in the absence of hemolysis, hemopexin levels should remain unchanged3,5.

Final Fun Fact: Did you know that serum haptoglobin is often low during the first 6 months of life?

References

  1. Shih AWY, McFarane A, Verhovsek M. Haptoglobin testing in hemolysis: measurement and interpretation. Am J Hematol 2014;89: 443-47. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24809098
  2. Sritharan V, Bharadwaj VP, Venkatesan K, et al. Dapsone induced hypohaptoglobinemia in lepromatous leprosy patients. Internat J Leprosy 1981;307-310. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7198620
  3. Delanghe J, Langlois M, De Buyzere M, et al. Congenital anhaptoglobinemia versus acquired hypohaptoglobinemia. Blood 1998;9: 3524. http://www.bloodjournal.org/content/bloodjournal/91/9/3524.full.pdf
  4. Haptoglobin blood test. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003634.htm. Accessed August 6, 2017.
  5. Smith A, McCulloh RJ. Hemopexin and haptoglobin: allies against heme toxicity from hemoglobin not contenders. Front. Physiol 2015;6:187. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4485156/pdf/fphys-06-00187.pdf

 

In collaboration with Kris Olson, MD, MPH, Mass General Hospital, Boston, MA

What could be causing low serum haptoglobin in my patient with no evidence of hemolysis?

What is the mechanism of anemia of chronic disease in my patient with rheumatoid arthritis?

Anemia of chronic disease (ACD)—or more aptly “anemia of inflammation”— is the second most common cause of anemia after iron deficiency and is associated with numerous acute or chronic conditions (eg, infection, cancer, autoimmune diseases, chronic organ rejection, and chronic kidney disease)1.

The hallmark of ACD is disturbances in iron homeostasis which result in increased uptake and retention of iron within cells of the reticuloendothelial system, with its attendant diversion of iron from the circulation and reduced availability for erythropoiesis1. More specifically, pathogens, cancer cells, or even the body’s own immune system stimulate CD3+ T cells and macrophages to produce a variety of cytokines, (eg, interferon-ɤ, TNF-α, IL-1, IL-6, and IL-10) which in turn increase iron storage within macrophages through induction of expression of ferritin, transferrin and divalent metal transporter 1.

In addition to increased macrophage storage of iron, ACD is also associated with IL-6-induced synthesis of hepcidin, a peptide secreted by the liver that decreases iron absorption from the duodenum and its release from macrophages2. TNF-α and interferon-ɤ also contribute to ACD by inhibiting the production of erythropoietin by the kidney.  Finally, the life span of RBCs is adversely impacted in AKD due to their reduced deformability and increased adherence to the endothelium in inflammatory states3.

Of interest, it is often postulated that by limiting access to iron through inflammation, the body hinders the growth of pathogens by depriving them of this important mineral2.

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References

  1. Weiss, G and Goodnough, L. Anemia of chronic disease. N Engl J Med 2005; 352; 1011-23. http://www.med.unc.edu/medclerk/medselect/files/anemia2.pdf
  2. D’Angelo, G. Role of hepcidin in the pathophysiology and diagnosis of anemia. Blood Res 2013; 48(1): 10-15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3624997/pdf/br-48-10.pdf                                                                                                                                  
  3. Straat M, van Bruggen R, de Korte D, et al. Red blood cell clearance in inflammation. Transfus Med Hemother 2012;39:353-60. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3678279/pdf/tmh-0039-0353.pdf

 

Contributed by Amir Hossein Ameri, Medical Student, Harvard Medical School

                     

What is the mechanism of anemia of chronic disease in my patient with rheumatoid arthritis?

My elderly patient with aortic stenosis has iron deficiency in the setting of Heyde’s syndrome. Can surgical or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (SAVR, TAVR) reduce her risk of future gastrointestinal bleeding?

Yes! Heyde’s syndrome, characterized by aortic stenosis and GI angiodysplasia1, appears to respond to SAVR or TAVR by reducing future risk of GI bleed.

Cessation of bleeding following SAVR or TAVR with gradual disappearance of angiodysplasia has been reported, in some cases despite long-term anticoagulant therapy2,3In fact, GI bleed may cease in 95% of cases following AVR vs 5% in cases controlled with laparotomy with or without bowel resection.  Further supporting the potential role of valve replacement is the observation that in patients who have undergone SAVR, aortic valve restenosis usually leads to the recurrence of GI bleeding which again resolves after redo surgery.

The pathophysiology of Heyde’s syndrome involves not only increased number of angiodysplasias but higher risk of bleeding from them.  Although its exact  physiological link is unclear, hypo-oxygenation of intestinal mucosa—possibly related to cholesterol emboli with resultant vasodilatation—has been hypothesized, among many others.4   Bleeding from angiodysplasias appears related to the high shear stress across the stenotic aortic valve, leading to acquired von Willebrand’s disease (Type 2AvWF disease) and coagulopathy.4

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References

    1. Heyde EC. Gastrointestinal bleeding in aortic stenosis. N Engl J Med 1958;259:196. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200209123471122
    2. Abi-akar R, El-rassi I, Karam N et al. Treatment of Heyde’s syndrome by aortic valve replacement. Curr Cardiol Rev 2011;  7:47–49. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131716/
    3. Pyxaras, SA, Santangelo S. Perkan A et al. Reversal of angiodysplasia-derived anemia after transcatheter aortic valve implantation. J Cardiol Cases 2012; 5: e128–e131. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187854091100079X
    4. Kapila A, Chhabra L, Khanna A. Valvular aortic stenosis causing angiodysplasia and acquired von Willebrand’s disease: Heyde’s syndrome. BMJ Case Rep 2014 doi:10.1136/bcr-2013-201890. http://casereports.bmj.com/content/2014/bcr-2013-201890.full.pdf

 

Contributed by Biqi Zhang, Medical Student,  Harvard Medical School

 

My elderly patient with aortic stenosis has iron deficiency in the setting of Heyde’s syndrome. Can surgical or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (SAVR, TAVR) reduce her risk of future gastrointestinal bleeding?

What is the evidence for iron deficiency causing pica?

Pica refers to the compulsive craving and persistent consumption of substances not fit as food such as ice (pagophagia) and soil (geophagia). Several reports have implicated iron deficiency as a cause of pica, with resolution of symptoms following treatment of iron deficiency (1).

In a recent study involving blood donors , pica (particularly pagophagia) was nearly 3 times as likely among donors with iron deficiency  compared to iron-replete donors (11%  vs 4%, respectively, P<0.0001).  In the same study, donors with pica reported a marked reduction in their pica by day 5-8 of iron therapy. 

It has been suggested that cerebral tissue function may be adversely impacted by a deficiency in Fe-containing enzymes (e.g. cytochrome c reductase) resulting in behavioral disorders, such as hyperactivity and pica (2).  

Of interest, cats can be induced to swallow inedible objects when certain points in the hypothalamic area high in iron content are stimulated (3).

References

  1. Bryant BJ, Yau YY, Arceo SM, et al. Ascertainment of iron deficiency and depletion in blood donors through screening questions for pica and restless legs syndrome. Transfusion 2013;53:1637-1644. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3691288
  2. Osman YM, Wali YA, Osman OM. Craving for ice and iron-deficiency anemia: a case series from Oman. Pediatric Hematol Oncol 2005; 22:127-131. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15804997
  3. Von Bonsdorff B. Pica: a hypothesis.. British J Haematol 1977;35:476-477.  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-2141.1977.tb00611.x

 

Contributed by S.J. Lee,  Medical Student, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

What is the evidence for iron deficiency causing pica?

Can oral candidiasis be symptomatic without actual pseudomembranes or “thrush”?

Yes!  Although we often associate oral candidiasis with thrush or pseudomembranous white plaques, another common form of oral candidiasis seen in hospitalized patients is “acute atrophic candidiasis” (AAC), also referred to as “antibiotic sore mouth” because of its association with use of broad spectrum antibiotics (1,2). 

Despite the absence of thrush, patients with AAC often have erythematous patches on the palate, buccal mucosa and dorsum of the tongue. Common symptoms include burning sensation in the mouth (especially with carbonated drinks in my experience), dry mouth and taste buds “being off” (2).  

Aside from antibiotics, other predisposing factors for AAC include corticosteroids, HIV disease, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, iron deficiency anemia, and vitamin B12 deficiency.

So next time you see a hospitalized patient with new onset sore, burning mouth that wasn’t present on admission, think of antibiotic sore mouth!

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References

1. Stoopler ET, Sollecito TP. Oral mucosal diseases. Med Clin N Am 2014;98:1323-1352. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25443679

2. Millsop JW, Fazel N. Oral candidiasis. Clin Derm 2016;34:487-94. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27343964

Can oral candidiasis be symptomatic without actual pseudomembranes or “thrush”?