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Springer, Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 9(34), p. 2205-2215, 2022

DOI: 10.1007/s40520-022-02093-0



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Prevalence and incidence of iron deficiency in European community-dwelling older adults: an observational analysis of the DO-HEALTH trial

Journal article published in 2022 by Alenka Stahl-Gugger, Caroline de Godoi Rezende Costa Molino, Maud Wieczorek ORCID, Patricia O. Chocano Bedoya, Lauren A. Abderhalden, Dominik J. Schaer, Donat R. Spahn, E. John Orav, Bruno Vellas, José A. P. da Silva, Reto W. Kressig, Andreas Egli, Heike A. Bischoff Ferrari, Sophie Guyonnet, René Rizzoli and other authors.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Abstract Background and aim Iron deficiency is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in older adults. However, data on its prevalence and incidence among older adults is limited. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and incidence of iron deficiency in European community-dwelling older adults aged ≥ 70 years. Methods Secondary analysis of the DO-HEALTH trial, a 3-year clinical trial including 2157 community-dwelling adults aged ≥ 70 years from Austria, France, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland. Iron deficiency was defined as soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) > 28.1 nmol/L. Prevalence and incidence rate (IR) of iron deficiency per 100 person-years were examined overall and stratified by sex, age group, and country. Sensitivity analysis for three commonly used definitions of iron deficiency (ferritin < 45 μg/L, ferritin < 30 μg/L, and sTfR–ferritin index > 1.5) were also performed. Results Out of 2157 participants, 2141 had sTfR measured at baseline (mean age 74.9 years; 61.5% women). The prevalence of iron deficiency at baseline was 26.8%, and did not differ by sex, but by age (35.6% in age group ≥ 80, 29.3% in age group 75–79, 23.2% in age group 70–74); P < 0.0001) and country (P = 0.02), with the highest prevalence in Portugal (34.5%) and the lowest in France (24.4%). As for the other definitions of iron deficiency, the prevalence ranged from 4.2% for ferritin < 30 µg/L to 35.3% for sTfR–ferritin index > 1.5. Occurrences of iron deficiency were observed with IR per 100 person-years of 9.2 (95% CI 8.3–10.1) and did not significantly differ by sex or age group. The highest IR per 100 person-years was observed in Austria (20.8, 95% CI 16.1–26.9), the lowest in Germany (6.1, 95% CI 4.7–8.0). Regarding the other definitions of iron deficiency, the IR per 100 person-years was 4.5 (95% CI 4.0–4.9) for ferritin < 45 µg/L, 2.4 (95% CI 2.2–2.7) for ferritin < 30 µg/L, and 12.2 (95% CI 11.0–13.5) for sTfR–ferritin index > 1.5. Conclusions Iron deficiency is frequent among relatively healthy European older adults, with people aged ≥ 80 years and residence in Austria and Portugal associated with the highest risk.