AIMS: Randomized clinical trials have suggested that treatment of anaemia with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in patients with cancer or chronic kidney disease may increase cardiovascular risk. We therefore examined the effect of treating anaemia with an ESA in patients with heart failure in a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials, including the recently reported TREAT study. METHODS AND RESULTS We performed
a systematic review and meta-analysis of all prospective, randomized, controlled studies of ESAs enrolling patients with heart failure and reporting data on mortality or non-fatal heart failure events. Of 10 trials initially identified by our search strategy, we pooled data from 9 placebo-controlled studies enrolling a total of 2039 patients, of whom 1023 (50.2%) were allocated to ESA treatment. The pooled risk ratio for ESA treatment relative to placebo was 1.03 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.89-1.21, P = 0.68] for overall mortality and 0.95 (95% CI: 0.82-1.10, P = 0.46) for worsening heart failure. CONCLUSIONS The use of ESAs to manage anaemia in patients with heart failure was associated with a neutral effect on both mortality and non-fatal heart failure events. Definitive assessment of the balance of risk and benefit in this population awaits the completion of a randomized clinical trial adequately powered to assess clinical outcomes.