This article is about iron therapy given to patients with heart failure and iron deficiency. In this articles, iron deficiency, heart failure, and iron therapy are discussed in detail for better understanding of its effects. It also discusses the side-effects and positive results caused due to iron therapy.

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Iron Therapy

The iron deficiency alone or the heart failure caused due to iron deficiency is treated with iron therapy. Iron therapy is also known as an iron infusion or intravenous iron therapy or intravenous iron infusion. It is called so, as the iron is supplied into our body through injecting the iron into our veins at first when this process of iron therapy was invented.[2] This process of iron therapy takes 3 to 4 hours and throughout the process, the patient is expected to be seated. The slower the process the more effective it becomes. This therapy cannot be done within a day or two but several months of follow up are needed to bring back the iron level to normal.

Iron therapy is also given to pregnant women as the fetus develops by iron intake which leads to a decrease in the iron level of the mother’s body. Even during the lactation period, some women’s iron level decreases.

Later due to medical advancement many forms of delivering the iron mineral into our body has been invented.

The following are the different ways of doing it:

  • The oral form of iron intake
  • Blood transfusion
  • Iron injection

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is related to a condition called anemia in which the patient experiences abnormally low red blood cell level. This is caused due to very less amount of iron in the patient’s body. There are many types of anemia but the major cause which is widespread around the world is iron deficiency.

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Causes of Iron Deficiency:

Hemoglobin is an important factor which enables the red blood cells to carry the oxygen all over the body for the perfect functioning of each and every organ. Hemoglobin is made up of iron and the deficiency of it leads to anemia as all the organs will not be supplied with a good amount of oxygen which is a need for their functioning.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency:

There are many symptoms which express iron deficiency in the affected person:

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  • Unusual tiredness
  • Skin becomes pale and the inside of the eyelids also becomes pale
  • Struggle to breathe in and out
  • Experience frequent headaches and dizziness
  • Heartbeats become abnormal
  • Skin and hair becomes dry and gets damaged
  • Mouth gets swelled up
  • Abnormal itching sensation caused in legs
  • Abnormal restless legs
  • The shape of the nails change
  • Lack of immunity

Diagnosis of Iron Deficiency:

The diagnosis for iron deficiency anemia is done by checking the different components of blood-related to iron and the amount of iron stored in the body.

  • Hemoglobin Test – Lower level of hemoglobin indicates iron deficiency anemia
  • Size and Color Test For Red Blood Cells – The red blood cells look smaller in size and paler in color
  • The Volume Of Red Blood Cells In The Blood – The lesser amount than the normal level indicates anemia and the volume of blood is known as hematocrit.[1]
  • Level of Iron In The Body – Low level of iron indicates anemia and ferritin plays an important role in storing iron in the body and low level of ferritin also indicates anemia

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition wherein the blood pumping function of the heart becomes weaker than usual. There are four types of heart failure such as left-side heart failure, right-side heart failure, systolic heart failure, diastolic heart failure (known as heart failure with preserved ejection fraction). There are four stages in heart failure such as A (high risk of heart failure), B (about to develop heart failure), C (showing symptoms of heart failure) and D (significant symptoms are shown)

Causes of Heart Failure:

There have been found many causes for heart failure which differs along with age:

  • Obesity and high cholesterol
  • Asthma
  • Infection in heart
  • Cardiovascular defects
  • Heart defects – caused mostly in infants
  • Smoking
  • High consumption of alcohol
  • Reduction of kidney function
  • Drug abuse
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • The weakening of heart – caused in old age people
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of Heart Failure:

Considering heart failure there are many external and internal symptoms. The external symptoms can easily be identified by the patients and their family member but internal symptoms can only be found by testing and medical examination.

The Following Are The External Symptoms Of Heart Failure:

The Following Are The Internal Symptoms Of Heart Failure:

  • Congested Lungs – Lungs get filled with fluid causing a dry cough
  • Fluid Retention – Water retention is caused in the kidney as less amount of blood is pumped to the kidney than required
  • The Heart Muscle Gets Harder – Pumping of the heart becomes difficult
  • Enlarged Heart – Hard to pump out the blood which is filled into it

Diagnosis of Heart Failure:

The diagnosis of heart failure is done only after confirming the symptoms for the same. The medical examination is all about the blood circulatory system.

The following are the diagnosis method:

  • Chest X-Ray – To monitor the fluid content and size of the heart
  • Blood and Urine Test – To check the blood count and kidney function
  • Ultrasound Scanning – To check the pumping action of the heart, the test is also known as an echocardiogram
  • ECGElectrocardiogram, this examination is done to monitor the rhythm of the heart

The Relation Between Iron Deficiency and Heart Failure

Iron deficiency is found to be an additional disorder in a heart failure patient. It is said that iron deficiency may also cause heart failure in many. When iron deficiency becomes the cause for heart failure many other problems such as gastrointestinal blood loss, impaired nutrition reduced intake of iron and malabsorption may be seen. As iron is also involved in the functioning of the cardiovascular muscles, lower level of iron also makes the pumping function of the heart difficult. Due to iron deficiency, even inflammation may be caused in the blood circulatory system of the body. Intravenous iron therapy helps in relieving the heart failure symptoms leading to a normal life.

Effects Caused Due to Iron Therapy

The side-effects of iron therapy may or may not be serious at times but most of the patients face at least one of the following effects.

The following are the side-effects which the patient experiences just after the iron therapy

  • Difficulty in tasting food for sometime
  • Rashes may appear
  • Joint pain may be caused
  • The area where the therapy was done may swell up and burning sensation may be caused
  • Shortened breath
  • Headache and vomiting

The following are the serious side-effects which are known as iron-toxicity. This is caused due to an allergic reaction to the elements contained in the therapy.

  • Severe Hypotension – due to low blood pressure
  • Losing Consciousness
  • Shock
  • Anaphylaxis – allergic reaction which causes the face to swell up

Positive Result of Iron Therapy

It takes up to 2 to 3 weeks for the iron therapy’s proper function to take place in the patient’s body. Only when the therapy is not done in a proper manner there are chances of the problem to reoccur otherwise it can be totally cured by this process if diagnosed and treated early. Even taking iron rich food can boost up the process of curing iron deficiency and heart failure caused due to iron deficiency. The treatment is required to be done until prescribed by the doctor. Some patients can be cured quickly by using certain methods of iron therapy than other methods and it may differ from patient to patient.

Conclusion

On the whole, it could be seen that iron deficiency causes many abnormal conditions which can be treated with iron therapy or iron infusion or iron intravenous infusion or therapy. Treatment is advised to be taken only after consulting and been prescribed by a professionalized doctor so as to avoid further problems. In every case, early treatment is always recommended so as to avoid complexity. Even though it has many negative side-effects it’s the only way to cure these conditions and thus cannot be avoided for any reason if the patient wants to be cured.

References:  

  1. Drozd, M., Jankowska, E., Banasiak, W., & Ponikowski, P. Iron Therapy in Patients with Heart Failure and Iron Deficiency: Review of Iron Preparations for Practitioners.
  2. American Journal Of Cardiovascular Drugs, (2016). 183-201. doi: 10.1007/s40256-016-0211-2
  3. Mordi, I., Tee, A., & Lang, C. Iron Therapy in Heart Failure: Ready for Primetime?. Cardiac Failure Review, (2018). 1. doi: 10.15420/cfr.2018:6:2
Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 9, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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