"The links between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and anaemia are already well known, but our study also shows that anaemia is frequently found in patients with severe non-inflammatory respiratory diseases" says lead author Dr Florian Kollert from the Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, University Medical Centre, Freiburg, Germany.
Patients with chronic respiratory failure who had been discharged from the hospital to receive home mechanical ventilation over a 15-year period were retrospectively reviewed. Just over half of the patients (55 per cent) had obstructive disease and the rest had restrictive disease.
The research team discovered that 13 per cent of the patients had anaemia, with statistically similar levels in the restrictive disease group (approximately 12 per cent) and obstructive disease group (approximately 15 per cent).
Other key findings included:
- Overall, patients were more likely to have anaemia if they were older, had a number of other health problems and poor nutrition. The authors suggest that this indicates anaemia could be caused by multiple factors in these patients.
- Men with obstructive disease were more than twice as likely to have anaemia as women with the same condition (18 per cent versus eight per cent).
- Anaemic patients with obstructive disease tended to be approximately five years older than those without anaemia and have higher rates of coronary heart disease, cardiac arrhythmia and diabetes mellitus. They also tended to have a lower body mass index and lower total protein levels than patients without anaemia.
- Patients with restrictive disease and anaemia tended to be older and have a lower white blood cell count.
"Our study systematically examined the prevalence of anaemia in a large cohort of patients with chronic respiratory failure and different types of underlying respiratory disorders" says Dr Kollert.
"The results indicate that anaemia is a regular phenomenon in severe respiratory disorder, not just as a result of systemic inflammation.
"We believe our findings underline the importance of clinicians being aware of the high prevalence of anaemia in respiratory disease and the need to regularly check potential nutritional deficiencies in these patients. Further research is needed to determine whether treatment for anaemia will prove beneficial in respiratory disease."