Embargoed until 3:39 p.m. CT/4:39 p.m. ET, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022
CHICAGO, Nov. 5, 2022 — Long-term treatment with iron administered intravenously improved symptoms and reduced recurrent hospitalizations among people with heart failure and iron deficiency, according to late-breaking research presented today at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022. The meeting, held in person in Chicago and virtually, Nov. 5-7, 2022, is a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science.
According to the American Heart Association, at least one in every five adults in the U.S. may develop heart failure. Iron deficiency is common in people with heart failure, and it is associated with impaired quality of life, poor exercise capacity and a higher risk of hospitalization or death. Previous research has shown that iron deficiency among people with heart failure may be quickly corrected with intravenous (IV) infusion of iron.
“Despite several great therapeutic successes in recent decades, many people with heart failure still have symptoms that restrict their daily lives, and the rates of hospital admissions and mortality remain high,” said Paul Kalra, M.D., a consultant cardiologist and heart failure specialist at Portsmouth Hospitals University National Health Service Trust and honorary senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. “There is an urgent need for new treatments that are safe and affordable.”
Kalra and his colleagues developed the IRONMAN (Effectiveness of Intravenous iron treatment vs. standard care in patients with heart failure and iron deficiency) trial to investigate whether long-term administration of IV iron improved outcomes among adults with heart failure and iron deficiency compared to the current guideline-recommended care that does not include IV iron treatment. The study was conducted across 70 U.K. hospital sites and included 1,137 adults with heart failure and iron deficiency. The average age of participants was 73 years and 74% of participants were male.
Study participants were randomized to two groups: to receive either IV iron or not, in addition to standard care for heart failure. Those assigned to the IV iron group received additional doses at the one-month review and every four months after if iron deficiency returned. Study participants were followed for a median length of just over 2.5 years, with follow up clinic visits every four months.
“While the trial continued through the COVID-19 pandemic, there were extended periods of time when it was not possible to see patients in-person and administer additional doses of IV iron if needed,” Kalra said. “This impacted the study and is likely to have reduced the magnitude of benefit seen with IV iron.”
To account for these factors, a further analysis was performed on the data from the 1,063 people who were part of the trial before 31 March 2020 and whose treatment wouldn’t have been as affected by the pandemic. This demonstrated a significant benefit of IV iron on the main study outcome of reducing the risk of heart failure hospitalization and cardiovascular death, Kalra added.
The results found that, compared with standard care alone, long-term administration of IV iron had significant benefits for people with heart failure and iron deficiency.
Over the average follow-up period of two and a half years, the overall analysis suggests that:
- IV iron reduced the risk of hospitalization for heart failure or cardiovascular death by approximately 20%.
- People in the IV iron group also reported improved well-being based on heart failure-related quality-of-life questionnaires (when initially assessed at 4 months, but not when re-assessed at 20 months).
- Long-term IV iron use was not associated with greater risk of infection and was associated with significantly fewer serious adverse cardiac events as compared to usual care.
“People with heart failure are at risk of developing recurrent iron deficiency if their iron levels are not ‘topped up’ regularly. These results demonstrate that repeated dosing with IV iron is a beneficial, safe and well-tolerated treatment option that may improve the well-being of adults with heart failure and iron deficiency within a few months,” Kalra said. “This study builds on existing evidence such that intravenous iron may benefit a broad range of people with heart failure, including those who are hospitalized, recently discharged or attending office or out-patient clinic appointments.”
Additional research is needed to confirm whether or not IV iron treatment may also reduce mortality in people with heart disease and to help identify additional markers of iron deficiency to improve diagnostic accuracy. While the study did not specifically compare IV iron to oral iron, previous research has suggested that oral iron may not be effective for people with heart failure.
The study had limitations. “The study was not blinded due to the dark color of IV iron – as compared to a clear saline placebo - and due to the difficulty of blinding patients and staff for a longer duration study,” Kalra said. To reduce the risk of bias, the investigators who reviewed and validated the trial outcomes were not aware of what treatment had been assigned to each patient.
“It is important to highlight that the beneficial results were seen despite the fact that approximately 1 in 6 patients randomized to standard care alone received IV iron outside the trial,” Kalra said. “This likely reduced the level of benefit seen with IV iron in the study.”
Co-authors are John G.F. Cleland, M.D.; Mark C. Petrie, M.B.Ch.B.; Philip A. Kalra, M.D.; Iain C. Macdougall, M.D.; Pierpaolo Pellicori, M.D.; Michele Robertson, B.Sc.; Iain B. Squire, M.D.; Elizabeth A. Thomson, M.A.; and Ian Ford, Ph.D. Authors’ disclosures are listed in the abstract.
The IRONMAN trial was funded by the British Heart Foundation. Supplies of ferric derisomaltose (IV iron) used in the study were donated by Pharmacosmos in addition to an unrestricted grant.
Statements and conclusions of studies that are presented at the American Heart Association’s scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association’s policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. Abstracts presented at the Association’s scientific meetings are not peer-reviewed, rather, they are curated by independent review panels and are considered based on the potential to add to the diversity of scientific issues and views discussed at the meeting. The findings are considered preliminary until published as a full manuscript in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers and the Association’s overall financial information are available here.
- Multimedia is available on the right column of the release link https://newsroom.heart.org/news/intravenous-iron-improved-long-term-outcomes-for-people-with-heart-failure-and-iron-deficiency?preview=d075a8cc73eba5b7f4b85ea303a0ce51
- Link to abstract and AHA Scientific Session 2022 Online Program Planner
- AHA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure (April 2022)
- AHA news release: Intravenous iron reduced rehospitalization risk in people with heart failure (November 2020)
- AHA health information: What is Heart Failure?
- AHA health information: Heart Failure Signs and Symptoms
- For more news at AHA Scientific Sessions 2022, follow us on Twitter @HeartNews
The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022 is a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science. The 3-day meeting will feature more than 500 sessions focused on breakthrough cardiovascular basic, clinical and population science updates occurring Saturday through Monday, November 5-7, 2022. Thousands of leading physicians, scientists, cardiologists, advanced practice nurses and allied health care professionals from around the world will convene virtually to participate in basic, clinical and population science presentations, discussions and curricula that can shape the future of cardiovascular science and medicine, including prevention and quality improvement. During the three-day meeting, attendees receive exclusive access to more than 4,000 original research presentations and can earn Continuing Medical Education (CME), Continuing Education (CE) or Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credits for educational sessions. Engage in Scientific Sessions 2022 on social media via #AHA22.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.