High-dose iron pills don’t improve the exercise capacity of iron-deficient patients with a certain type of heart failure, a new study finds.
Iron deficiency affects about half of heart failure patients with what’s called reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (HFrEF). This refers to how well the heart’s left ventricle pumps with each contraction.
This iron shortage is associated with reduced physical functioning, poorer quality of life, and increased risk of death.
The new study included 225 such patients who received either high-dose iron pills (150 milligrams) or a placebo, twice daily for 16 weeks.
Exercise capacity was assessed by how far patients could walk in six minutes.
After four months, those who took the iron pills did not have higher peak oxygen uptake or greater exercise capacity than those who took the placebo, according to the study.
The study results were published May 16 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“These results do not support use of oral iron supplementation in patients with HFrEF,” Dr. Gregory Lewis, of Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues wrote in a journal news release.
Previous research has shown that intravenous iron supplementation in iron-deficient heart failure patients may be beneficial, but this approach is costly and complicated. The effectiveness of inexpensive, readily available iron pills had not been examined.
Heart failure is a progressive condition that occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood efficiently enough to meet the body’s needs.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on heart failure.