Dec 10, 2001
What is hemochromatosis and what organs are involved?
Response from Dr. Fried
Hemochromatosis is an inherited disease where patients absorb too much iron. Eventually, high levels of iron will lead to cirrhosis and put patients at risk for developing liver cancer. In hereditary hemochromatosis, iron can also accumulate in the heart, parts of the endocrine (glandular system), and cause diabetes, heart problems, and joint pains. Certain patients should be screened for hemochromatosis using a blood test to check markers of iron in the blood, and in certain cases, with the genetic test to identify the mutation that is associated with hemochromatosis. This is especially important in the family members of a person with known hemochromatosis. This disease is easily treated when diagnosed at an early stage. The treatment is as simple as gradually removing units of blood until the iron levels normalize. This is a very serious disease, if not treated or if not diagnosed until after the patient already has cirrhosis of the liver. Hemochromatosis should not be ignored!
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