The effects of erythropoiesis stimulating therapy for anemia in chronic heart failure: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, South Korea; Department of Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Center, Seoul National University Hospital, South Korea; Molecular Medicine and Biopharmaceutical Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea.

International Journal of Cardiology. 2016;218:12-22.
BACKGROUND Although anemia is common in chronic heart failure (CHF), the use of erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs) in CHF patients remains controversial. In this meta-analysis, we sought to clarify the efficacy and safety of ESAs in anemic patients with CHF. METHODS We searched PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the U.S. National Institutes of Health registry of clinical trials. We included 13 randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in the meta-analysis. The co-primary outcome was all-cause mortality and rehospitalization. The safety analysis outcome was thromboembolic events. RESULTS Preliminary analysis showed that ESA-treatment did not have any effect for all-cause mortality and rehospitalization. However, we revealed a significant small-study bias, and used the trim-and-fill method to reduce this bias. The summary effect of ESA-treatment was insignificant for all-cause mortality (risk ratio [RR] 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.59-1.42, p=0.69) and for rehospitalization (RR 0.91, 95% CI 0.67-1.23, p=0.53). Regarding symptoms, ESA-treatment improved dyspnea (NYHA grade improvement: 1.63, 95% CI 0.65-2.62, p<0.001) and quality-of-life measured by subjective questionnaires. However, in safety analysis, ESAs increased the over-all risk for thromboembolic events (RR 1.28, 95% CI 1.03-1.58, p=0.026), however, no specific increase was observed in severe thromboembolic events. Subgroup analysis showed no difference in ESA-treatment according to the type of ESAs (darbepoetin vs. erythropoietin) and between studies of different follow-up durations (<6months or ≥6months). CONCLUSION Among CHF patients with anemia, ESA-treatment has a neutral effect on all-cause mortality and rehospitalization and improves symptoms, but has harmful effects on thromboembolic events.
Study details
Study Design : Systematic Review
Language : English
Credits : Bibliographic data from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine