UK researchers are to investigate whether iron supplement injections could ease the disabling symptoms of heart failure.
The UK-wide study could determine if iron supplements can reduce hospitalisation in heart failure patients, and improve their ability to exercise without becoming breathless and fatigued.
“Any treatment that can reduce the frequency of heart failure admissions could have significant benefits”
The trial, which is recruiting patients who suffer from chronic heart failure and iron deficiency, is being co-ordinated by the University of Glasgow and Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board. Those behind the research note that many heart failure patients have low levels of usable iron in the blood, and this is associated with worse symptoms.
Previous smaller studies have shown that intravenous iron can be beneficial to patients with heart failure in the short term, making them feel better and increasing exercise capacity.
The new study is looking at the effect of iron supplement injections on life expectancy and hospitalisation over a longer period in a much larger patient group.
The researchers are aiming to recruit around 1,300 patients over two years across over 50 UK sites.
Professor Ian Ford, study director from the University of Glasgow, said: ‘’Emergency admission to hospital is a common feature of heart failure and places significant burdens on the health services.
Professor Peter Weissberg
“Any treatment that can reduce the frequency of heart failure admissions could have significant benefits for patients and could help to reduce NHS costs,’ he said.’
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, added: “This trial offers hope for a new and simple treatment that might reduce the debilitating symptoms of heart failure.
“Only by undertaking a properly conducted clinical trial such as this will we be able to determine whether iron really has lasting beneficial effects for patients in heart failure,” he said.