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Anemia and acute coronary syndrome: current perspectives

Authors Stucchi M, Cantoni S, Piccinelli E, Savonitto S, Morici N

Received 22 December 2017

Accepted for publication 4 April 2018

Published 30 May 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 109—118


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Pietro Scicchitano

Miriam Stucchi,1 Silvia Cantoni,2 Enrico Piccinelli,3 Stefano Savonitto,4 Nuccia Morici5,6

1Division of Cardiology, ASST Vimercate, Italy; 2Division of Hematology, ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano Niguarda Ca’ Granda, Milano, Italy; 3Health Science Department, Milano-Bicocca University, Milano, Italy; 4Division of Cardiology, A. Manzoni Hospital, Lecco, Italy; 5De Gasperis Cardio Center, ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano Niguarda Ca’ Granda, Milano, Italy; 6Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy

Abstract: Reference hemoglobin (Hb) values for the definition of anemia are still largely based on the 1968 WHO Scientific Group report, which established a cutoff value of <13 g/dL for adult men and <12 g/dL for adult nonpregnant women. Subsequent studies identified different normal values according to race and age. Estimated prevalence of anemia on admission in the setting of an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is between 10% and 43% of the patients depending upon the specific population under investigation. Furthermore, up to 57% of ACS patients may develop hospital-acquired anemia (HAA). Both anemia on admission and HAA are associated with worse short- and long-term mortality, even if different mechanisms contribute to their prognostic impact. Baseline anemia can usually be traced back to preexisting disease that should be specifically investigated and corrected whenever possible. HAA is associated with clinical characteristics, medical therapy and interventional procedures, all eliciting cardiovascular adaptive response that can potentially worsen myocardial ischemia. The intrinsic fragility of anemic patients may limit aggressive medical and interventional therapy due to an increased risk of bleeding, and could independently contribute to worse outcome. However, primary angioplasty for ST elevation ACS should not be delayed because of preexisting (and often not diagnosed) anemia; delaying revascularization to allow fast-track anemia diagnosis is usually feasible and justified in non-ST-elevation ACS. Besides identification and treatment of the underlying causes of anemia, the only readily available means to reverse anemia is red blood cell transfusion. The adequate transfusion threshold is still being debated, although solid evidence suggests reserving red blood cell transfusions for patients with Hb level <8 g/dL and considering it in selected cases with Hb levels of between 8 and 10 g/dL. No evidence supports the use of iron supplements and erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in the setting of ACS.

Keywords: anemia, acute coronary syndrome, hemoglobin, red blood cell transfusion

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