Background and objective
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with reduced exercise capacity. In COPD iron deficiency is found in up to 50% of patients and may impair exercise capacity, the potential therapeutic effect is yet unknown. We aimed to estimate the beneficial effect of intravenous ferric carboxymaltose on exercise capacity and quality of life in patients with COPD.
In this non-randomized, interrupted time series pilot trial we enrolled outpatients with stable COPD (GOLD II and III) and nonanemic iron deficiency (i.e., ferritin level < 100 μg/l or ferritin level 100–300 μg/l if transferrin saturation < 20%). Patients with cardiovascular-or inflammatory diseases were excluded. Participants performed 6‑minute walking test (6-MWT) and cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) and completed the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ).
From 35 screened patients, 11 (72% male, 63 ± 8 years, FEV1%predicted 44 ± 14) were included. Mean ferritin and hemoglobin were 70 ± 41 µg/l and 13.8 ± 1.7 g/dl, respectively. Four weeks after iron administration the 6‑MWT distance increased by 34.7 ± 34.4 m (95% CI, 10.0–59.3); p = 0.011. The VO2max increased by 1.87 ± 1.2 ml/kg/min (95% CI, 0.76–3); p = 0.006. Mean score of SGRQ was reduced by 7.56 ± 6.12 units (95% CI, 3 to 11); p = 0.004. The insignificant alteration in hemoglobin did not correlate with increase in exercise capacity.
Administration of intravenous iron was associated with improved exercise capacity and quality of life in stable COPD patients independent of hemoglobin. Our data provide a basis to calculate a statistically sufficient sample size for a randomized controlled follow-up study.