More studies needed to find better anaemia treatments

18th April 2016

Further studies are needed to find better anaemia treatments for children with heart failure, researchers have concluded.

One in five children with acute heart failure has a lack of iron in the body leading to a deficiency of red cells or haemoglobin in the blood.  And this is associated with them doing less well, said researcher Dr Jason Goldberg, from Baylor College of Medicine in America.

Anaemia is widespread in adults with heart failure but the prevalence in children had previously been unknown, Dr Goldberg told an annual conference on paediatric heart disease.

In the country’s first national evaluation of anaemia in children with heart failure, his team analysed the records of almost 3,000 children (51 % boys) on a children’s health database who were admitted to hospital between 2004 and 2013 with acute heart failure and dilated cardiomyopathy. 

When the team looked at trends in anaemia treatment, they found that packed red blood cell transfusion and iron therapy had no appreciable effect on outcomes. They said further study was needed to better assess targeted anaemia therapies.

The research did not include children with infectious or inflammatory causes of heart failure, those who had had heart surgery, rejection of a heart transplant or those with hypertrophic or restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Overall, 19% of the children had anaemia and 10% died.

After adjustment for age, sex and race, those with anaemia were more likely than those without it to require admission to intensive care, mechanical ventilation, and heart support device (left ventricular assist devices).

Reference: Goldberg JF, et al. Abstract 42. Presented at: Cardiology 2016, the 19th Annual Update on Pediatric and Congenital Cardiovascular Disease.