The impact of anaemia and iron deficiency in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A clinical overview

A. Robalo Nunesa,, M. Tátáb

a – Serviço de Imunohemoterapia/Medicina Transfusional, Hospital das Forças Armadas (Pólo de Lisboa), Lisboa, Portugal

b – Serviço de Pneumologia, Hospital das Forças Armadas (Pólo de Lisboa), Lisboa, Portugal


Introduction: Anaemia is increasingly recognised as an important comorbidity in the context of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but remains undervalued in clinical practice. This review aims to characterise the impact of anaemia and iron deficiency in COPD.

Methods: Literature review of studies exploring the relationship between anaemia/iron deficiency and COPD, based on targeted MEDLINE and Google Scholar queries.

Results: The reported prevalence of anaemia in COPD patients, ranging from 4.9% to 38.0%, has been highly variable, due to different characteristics of study populations and lack of a consensus on the definition of anaemia. Inflammatory processes seem to play an important role in the development of anaemia, but other causes (including nutritional deficiencies) should not be excluded from consideration. Anaemia in COPD has been associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and overall reduced quality of life. The impact of iron deficiency, irrespective of anaemia, is not as well studied, but it might have important implications, since it impacts production of red blood cells and respiratory enzymes. Treatment of anaemia/iron deficiency in COPD remains poorly studied, but it appears reasonable to assume that COPD patients should at least receive the same type of treatment as other patients.

Conclusions: Anaemia and iron deficiency continue to be undervalued in most COPD clinical settings, despite affecting up to one-third of patients and having negative impact on prognosis. Special efforts should be made to improve clinical management of anaemia and iron deficiency in COPD patients as a means of achieving better patient care.


KEYWORDS: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COPD; Anaemia; Iron deficiency; Iron deficiency anaemia; Inflammation

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