Iron is an element that plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, because of its role in hemoglobin. Large amounts of iron are needed to make the heme component of hemoglobin. The heme group within red blood cells is an important component which attaches to oxygen. Without iron, lower amounts of oxygen can be transported around our body. Chronic kidney disease patients taking EPO medications may experience iron deficiency. This occurs when the body’s iron stores cannot meet the demand of the increasing number of red blood cells. Iron deficiency may also occur as a result of low ferritin in the body. Ferritin is a protein that helps stores iron within our cells.
To manage iron deficiency, patients may need to take oral iron supplements. Iron supplements increase the number of available iron in the body to support the effectiveness of EPO therapy. Patients who are iron deficient may experience symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath and dark coloured stools.
Talk to your health care provider about other medication that may reduce the effectiveness of iron therapy.
Here is a helpful handout from BC Renal Agency to help you learn about this medication!