Congratulations to my cousin Deepu for getting published in the American Journal of Cardiology.
He found a strong association between anemia and diastolic dysfunction in patients with coronary disease. Diastolic dysfunction is a condition in which a patient has clinical signs of heart failure, but a normal left ventricular systolic function. So, for some reason, the heart is pumping vigorously, but fluid is still backing up (into the legs or into the lungs). Why does this happen? It’s thought to be related to hypertension. High blood pressure over a long period of time takes a toll on our heart. The heart, in response, bulks up - a condition called left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). Because of the bulk, our heart is now somewhat stiffer. It still pumps vigorously, but when it’s time to fill up with blood, it’s no longer so compliant. Not as much blood rushes in, and the blood that doesn’t get in gets pushed back - into the lungs and legs.
Interestingly, Deepu’s study found an association between anemia and diastolic dysfunction (Odds Ratio of 6.6 for severe anemia), but not between anemia and LVH (Odds Ration of 1.6 for severe anemia). I would’ve expected those to go together.
His study was aimed at looking for the presence or absence of an association, so it can’t say which one causes the other one, or if they are both caused by some other third condition. Now, it’s up to further studies to figure out the details of the association.