Iron Status in Chronic Heart Failure: Impact on Symptoms, Functional Class and Submaximal Exercise Capacity

Cristina Enjuanes, Jordi Bruguera, María Grau, Mercé Cladellas, Gina Gonzalez, Oona Meroño, Pedro Moliner-Borja, José M. Verdú, Nuria Farré, Josep Comín-Colet

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© 2015 Sociedad Española de Cardiología. Introduction and objectives To evaluate the effect of iron deficiency and anemia on submaximal exercise capacity in patients with chronic heart failure. Methods We undertook a single-center cross-sectional study in a group of stable patients with chronic heart failure. At recruitment, patients provided baseline information and completed a 6-minute walk test to evaluate submaximal exercise capacity and exercise-induced symptoms. At the same time, blood samples were taken for serological evaluation. Iron deficiency was defined as ferritin < 100 ng/mL or transferrin saturation < 20% when ferritin is < 800 ng/mL. Additional markers of iron status were also measured. Results A total of 538 heart failure patients were eligible for inclusion, with an average age of 71 years and 33% were in New York Heart Association class III/IV. The mean distance walked in the test was 285 ± 101 meters among those with impaired iron status, vs 322 ± 113 meters (P =.002). Symptoms during the test were more frequent in iron deficiency patients (35% vs 27%; P =.028) and the most common symptom reported was fatigue. Multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that increased levels of soluble transferrin receptor indicating abnormal iron status were independently associated with advanced New York Heart Association class (P <.05). Multivariable analysis using generalized additive models, soluble transferrin receptor and ferritin index, both biomarkers measuring iron status, showed a significant, independent and linear association with submaximal exercise capacity (P =.03 for both). In contrast, hemoglobin levels were not significantly associated with 6-minute walk test distance in the multivariable analysis. Conclusions In patients with chronic heart failure, iron deficiency but not anemia was associated with impaired submaximal exercise capacity and symptomatic functional limitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-255
JournalRevista Espanola de Cardiologia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Heart failure
  • Iron deficiency
  • Soluble transferrin receptor
  • Submaximal exercise capacity 6-minute walk test


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