Intravenous iron for heart failure, iron deficiency definitions, and clinical response: the IRONMAN trial

John G F Cleland (Lead / Corresponding author), Philip A Kalra, Pierpaolo Pellicori, Fraser J Graham, Paul W X Foley, Iain B Squire, Peter J Cowburn, Alison Seed, Andrew L Clark, Ben Szwejkowski, Prithwish Banerjee, Justin Cooke, Mark Francis, Piers Clifford, Aaron Wong, Colin Petrie, John J V McMurray, Elizabeth A Thomson, Kirsty Wetherall, Michele RobertsonIan Ford, Paul R Kalra, IRONMAN Study Group, Chim Lang, Jackie Duff, Allan Struthers

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BACKGROUND AND AIMS: What is the relationship between blood tests for iron deficiency, including anaemia, and the response to intravenous iron in patients with heart failure?

METHODS: In the IRONMAN trial, 1137 patients with heart failure, ejection fraction ≤ 45%, and either serum ferritin < 100 µg/L or transferrin saturation (TSAT) < 20% were randomized to intravenous ferric derisomaltose (FDI) or usual care. Relationships were investigated between baseline anaemia severity, ferritin and TSAT, to changes in haemoglobin from baseline to 4 months, Minnesota Living with Heart Failure (MLwHF) score and 6-minute walk distance achieved at 4 months, and clinical events, including heart failure hospitalization (recurrent) or cardiovascular death.

RESULTS: The rise in haemoglobin after administering FDI, adjusted for usual care, was greater for lower baseline TSAT (Pinteraction < .0001) and ferritin (Pinteraction = .028) and more severe anaemia (Pinteraction = .014). MLwHF scores at 4 months were somewhat lower (better) with FDI for more anaemic patients (overall Pinteraction = .14; physical Pinteraction = .085; emotional Pinteraction = .043) but were not related to baseline TSAT or ferritin. Blood tests did not predict difference in achieved walking distance for those randomized to FDI compared to control. The absence of anaemia or a TSAT ≥ 20% was associated with lower event rates and little evidence of benefit from FDI. More severe anaemia or TSAT < 20%, especially when ferritin was ≥100 µg/L, was associated with higher event rates and greater absolute reductions in events with FDI, albeit not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: This hypothesis-generating analysis suggests that anaemia or TSAT < 20% with ferritin > 100 µg/L might identify patients with heart failure who obtain greater benefit from intravenous iron. This interpretation requires confirmation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1410-1426
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Issue number16
Early online date6 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2024


  • Humans
  • Iron/therapeutic use
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency/drug therapy
  • Ferritins/therapeutic use
  • Ferric Compounds/therapeutic use
  • Anemia
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Hemoglobins
  • Heart Failure/drug therapy


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