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Iron Overload


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A short overview of Haemochromatosis, iron overload disorder.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Iron Overload

  1. 1. “we all have to die ofsomething, but it shouldn’t be haemochromatosis” 1
  2. 2. Haemochromatosis What is this ‘Haemo’ you may ask? IRON OVERLOAD This can be toxic to our body organs. 2
  3. 3.  fault in an iron control gene inherited from both parents runs in families too much iron absorbed from food iron overload can cause organ damage and eventually death early diagnosis and simple treatment prevents complications normal health and life expectancy is possible 3
  4. 4.  men and women are equally at riskgenetic  Caucasian people are at risk 1 in 200 have the fault fault  it runs in families so family members at riskexcess  frequent and heavy alcohol drinkers iron  taking iron supplements  eating large amounts of iron-rich foods  taking high doses of vitamin C ironoverload  men & post-menopausal women at greatest risk  (people who donate blood are at lower risk) organ  untreated haemochromatosisdamage  frequent and heavy alcohol drinkers 4
  5. 5.  relatives of people with haemochromatosis are at risk relatives need to be tested – brothers and sisters – mother and father – children over 18 years – grandparents – aunts, uncles – nieces, nephews – half-siblings unrelated people children brothers & sisters 1 in 200 risk 1 in 20 risk 1 in 4 riskcousins are more distant so routine testing isn’t strongly recommended 5
  6. 6.  simple blood tests, arranged by a doctor, can detect – iron overload – the genetic faults simple treatment removes excess iron – giving blood, just like a blood donation at a blood bank – this is called „venesection‟ – 500mL blood = 1 venesection = 0.25 grams iron simple advice on diet helps to prevent extra iron absorption haemochromatosis can‟t be treated by diet alone 6
  7. 7.  harder to diagnose early….. fatigue, weakness, lethargy, apathy, weight loss, joint aches abdominal pains….. 7
  8. 8.  classical description was “bronze diabetes” easier to diagnose late….. the “iron salute” 1st & 2nd finger knuckle arthritis liver failure and pigmented skin 8
  9. 9. LIVER liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, sometimes requiring liver transplant symptoms of fatigue, liver pain, enlarged liver, weakness, weight loss, abnormal blood tests for liver function, jaundice (yellowness of skin and whites of eyes)HEART arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, heart failure symptoms of fatigue, palpitations, shortness of breath, breathlessness with exertion, ankle swellingPANCREAS iron in the pancreas can cause diabetes symptoms of high blood sugar include fatigue, thirst, hunger, increase in urinary frequency, slow-to-heal skin infections, dizziness 9
  10. 10. JOINTS most commonly affected joints are the hands, wrists, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles arthritis can lead to joint replacement surgery at a young age a classic finding is of swelling in the 1st and 2nd finger knuckles and the “iron salute”SKIN iron overload may cause slate grey or bronze discolouration of the skin, loss of body hairSEX men: low testosterone, impotence (erection problems), loss ofORGANS libido, shrinking testicles (which doctors call testicular atrophy), development of „man boobs‟ (which doctors call gynaecomastia) women: irregular or no periods, early menopause, loss of libido 10
  11. 11. gene test tells youiron studies tell about your futureyou about your risk of iron current iron overload and if overload your family needs to be tested 11
  12. 12.  venesection / phlebotomy treatment removes excess iron – Like a blood donation 1. iron unloading phase – frequent venesections 2. life-long maintenance phase – monitoring iron levels at least every 12 months, usually every 3-6 months – enough venesections every year to keep SF at a safe level (highly individual) 12
  13. 13. “we all have to die ofsomething, but it shouldn’t be haemochromatosis” 13
  14. 14. 14