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Iron deficiency linked with thrombosis

Low levels of iron in the blood may increase the risk of venous thromboemboli (VTE) according to a new study.

Researchers at Hammersmith Hospital in London studied the blood of 609 patients with hereditary hamorrhagic telangiectasia, who are known to have a raised risk of VTE.

A low serum iron content was found to be associated with elevated levels of plasma coagulation factor VIII. Patients with a serum iron content of 6 mM/L had 2.5 times the risk of developing VTE compared with patients in the mid-normal range of 17 mM/L.

Lead author Dr Claire Shovlin, consultant in respiratory medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: ‘Many of the patients had low iron levels because of iron lost through bleeding.'

‘Patients who took iron supplements did not have higher risk, suggesting that treatment for iron deficiency can prevent blood clots.'

However, larger studies were needed in the general population to confirm the findings, she added.

Thorax 2011. Published online 14 December

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