There is increasing evidence that replacing iron intravenously in patients with heart failure and low iron levels is beneficial.
A few studies have shown that in patients with heart failure and iron deficiency, that giving intravenous iron makes them feel better, and have more energy. These effects are typically seen in the first few weeks after the iron infusion. The same effect has not been seen with iron in pill form.
What causes iron deficiency?
There are many different causes of iron deficiency in patients with heart failure. The exact cause in an individual patient is often difficult to determine.
Patients with heart failure may not be taking enough iron in their diet (or even if they are, they may not be able to absorb it properly); they may also have impairment in their kidney function, which contributes to low iron levels in the body.
Bleeding (especially in the gut) is another important cause, so your doctor may request a colonoscopy if you haven’t had one in the recent past.
What are the risks of intravenous iron?
In general, intravenous iron is safe. There is a very small chance of an allergic reaction with the iron infusion. While you are receiving the iron infusion, you will be monitored closely for any signs of an allergic reaction. If you have been prescribed iron and have previously had an allergic reaction to any form of iron, you should tell your doctor immediately. While you are receiving the infusion, if you develop signs of an allergic reaction (like feeling dizzy, swelling of your face, difficulty breathing), you should tell your nurse or doctor immediately.
If you have any other questions, speak to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
What happens next?
If you are prescribed intravenous iron, an appointment will be made for you to come in on another day to receive the infusion. The treatment takes several hours, so plan to be in hospital for at least half a day.
One month after the iron treatment, your doctor will recheck the iron levels in your body, and may consider another treatment.