Prediction and evaluation of the effect of iron treatment in anaemic RA patients
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In order to predict a haemoglobin (Hb) rise, in response to treatment with iron from simple erythrocyte and serological parameters, we treated 28 anaemic RA patients with oral iron during 6 weeks. Iron deficiency, present in 57% of patients, was assessed by staining a bone marrow aspirate for iron. Response rate in this group was 81% and median Hb increase was 0.8 mmol/l. After 6 weeks 69% of iron deficient patients were still anaemic. Patients without iron deficiency, considered as having anaemia of chronic disease (ACD), showed no significant Hb rise. The finding of a hypochromic microcytic anaemia was associated with a significant Hb rise. MCV showed highest specificity and predictive value (90 and 88%) and ferritin was the most valid predictor of a Hb rise within 6 weeks. Combination of low MCV and low ferritin resulted in a 100% specificity and predictive value indicating that patients with values below cut off point of these variables will definitely respond to treatment. Disease activity tended to decrease after 6 weeks, but this was not correlated with a Hb rise. It was concluded that a Hb rise can be predicted accurately by blood parameters. Using certain combinations, bone marrow aspiration is rarely necessary. Iron treatment is only useful in iron deficient RA patients, although active RA limits maximal Hb rise. In contrast to earlier findings, iron treatment had no deleterious effects on disease activity.
Key wordsRheumatoid Arthritis Anaemia Iron Responsiveness Ferritin MCV
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