October 26, 2010

High Erythropoietin Levels Increase Risk Of Death

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- As if high blood pressure, chronic diseases, and cancer weren't enough, high levels of erythropoietin in people over 85 join the list of silent killers.

Erythropoietin is a hormone created in the kidneys to stimulate production of red blood cells. Production is triggered by impaired oxygen delivery to the kidney because of anemia or low blood oxygen levels. Studies involving patients with chronic heart failure have shown that high erythropoietin levels predict poor survival.

Researchers looked at data from the Leiden-85 plus study, a population-based prospective
follow-up study involving 428 85-year-old inhabitants of Leiden, the Netherlands. They were grouped according to the tertile of erythropoietin level: low, middle and high.

Results showed that compared with participants whose erythropoietin levels were in the lowest tertile, those whose levels were in the middle tertile had a 25% increased risk of death, and those whose levels were in the highest tertile had a 73% increased risk. High erythropoietin levels were associated with increased mortality, independent of creatinine clearance, hemoglobin level, the presence of comorbidity, smoking and circulating markers of inflammation.

"We showed that elevated erythropoietin has important prognostic value for mortality in the general population of older individuals," Wendy den Elzen, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, the Netherlands, and co-authors was quoted saying. "However, we do not know whether high erythropoietin, apart from being a risk marker of increased mortality in old age, is also a causal risk factor of increased mortality."

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 2010