Having anaemia means you have an abnormally low amount of haemoglobin in your blood. Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around your body. Therefore, if you don’t have enough red blood cells, your heart will have to work harder to move these cells (and the oxygen they’re carrying) around your body at a faster rate. This extra workload can aggravate heart failure.

Anaemia has several causes. A common cause is chronic blood loss such as with bleeding from the gut. Chronic bleeding will also deplete the body’s iron stores and lead to an iron deficiency anaemia. The bone marrow produces red blood cells and conditions such as kidney failure, chronic inflammation or cancer treatment may reduce bone marrow production and may lead to anaemia. Other conditions, for example the presence of an artificial heart valve, can sometimes injure circulating red blood cells and cause anaemia.

Routine blood tests taken by the primary care physician include measurement of haemoglobin and will identify the need for further investigation. Once the cause of the anaemia is identified, appropriate treatment can be started.

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ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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