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Increasing hospital admissions for haemochromatosis in England

Haemochromatosis is a genetic disorder in which affected people absorb an excessive amount of iron from the diet. The iron is then deposited around the body, mainly the liver, but also in the pancreas, heart, skin, endocrine glands, and joints. These iron deposits can cause serious organ damage and lead to major medical complications. In a recent paper on haemochromatosis in which I was a contributing author, Dr Jin-Yong Kang from St. George’s Hospital and colleagues investigated time trends for hospital admissions resulting from haemochromatosis in England from 1989/90 to 2002/03 and mortality from 1979 to 2005.

We found that although haemochromatosis was an uncommon cause for hospital admission, age standardised inpatient admission rates increased over the study period by 269% in males and by 290% in females. The increase in age standardised day-case admission rates was even higher (males: 1,155%; females: 1,924%). Haemochromatosis was not commonly recorded as a cause of death. The increase in admission rates may be because of improved recognition and diagnosis of haemochromatosis. If correct, this would be encouraging as it implies that more people with haemochromatosis are being treated, thus reducing their likelihood of developing complications. Further information about haemochromatosis is available on the website of the Haemochromatosis Society.

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