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High Erythropoietin Levels May Increase Risk of Death

Posted Nov 05 2010 11:54am

Erythropoietin is a hormone created in the kidneys to stimulate production of red blood cells. The hormone’s production is triggered by impaired oxygen delivery to the kidney because of anemia or low blood oxygen levels. Wendy den Elzen, from Leiden University Medical Centre (The Netherlands), and colleagues reviewed data collected during the Leiden 85-plus Study, which involved 428 people, ages 85 and over, living in Leiden, the Netherlands.  Then researchers found that high erythropoietin levels were associated with increased mortality, independent of creatinine clearance, hemoglobin level, the presence of comorbidity, smoking and circulating markers of inflammation.  Positing that elevated erythropoietin has important prognostic value for mortality in the general population of older individuals, the team concludes that: “Among people aged 85 years and older, elevated erythropoietin levels were associated with an increased risk of death, independent of hemoglobin levels.”

Wendy P.J. den Elzen, Jorien M. Willems, Rudi G.J. Westendorp, Anton J.M. de Craen, Gerard Jan Blauw, Luigi Ferrucci, Willem J.J. Assendelft, Jacobijn Gussekloo.  “Effect of erythropoietin levels on mortality in old age: the Leiden 85-plus Study.”  Can. Med. Assoc. J., Oct 2010; doi:10.1503/cmaj.100347.

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