MentallyHealth.Org

Patients unresponsive to anti-anemia drug have higher risk of cardiovascular disease, death

August 05, 2017

In analyzing the results, the researchers divided the participants into two groups: those whose hemoglobin levels promptly increased in response to early doses of darbepoetin alpha, and those whose bodies responded less strongly, with hemoglobin level staying low.

The participants who had poor initial responses to the drug had a higher rate of death, heart attack, stroke or heart failure, the researchers found.

The study cannot show whether those people had higher risk for those outcomes because they were in poorer health to begin with, or because of some action of the drug, the researchers stated.

However, it does raise the question of whether treatment for anemia should be customized according to a patient's response to the drug, Dr. Toto said. "Our studies suggest that we might be able to use the initial dose response to identify high-risk groups in future studies," he said.

For instance, if a person's hemoglobin level doesn't improve within one or two months of anti-anemia treatment, it may be better to stop the drug and seek alternative treatment. A state of mild anemia might pose less cardiovascular risk in such a case than continuing or escalating the dose in an attempt to reach a normal hemoglobin level, Dr. Toto said. Conversely, for patients who respond quickly to the drug, treating them until they reach the normal goal range recommended by the Food and Drug Administration appears safer, he said.

Source:  UT Southwestern Medical Center