Can J Gastroenterol 2008 Nov;22(11):923-30
Department of Veteran's Affairs Long Beach Healthcare Systems, Long Beach, California 90822, USA.
Background: Patients with hemochromatosis may suffer organ damage from iron overload, often with serious clinical consequences.
Objective: To assess prevalences of self-reported symptoms and clinical signs and conditions in persons homozygous for the hemochromatosis gene (HFE) mutation (C282Y) identified by screening.
Methods: Participants were adults 25 years of age or older enrolled in the Hemochromatosis and Iron Overload Screening (HEIRS) Study. C282Y homozygotes (n=282) were compared with control participants without the HFE C282Y or H63D alleles (ie, wild type/wild type; n=364).
Results: Previously diagnosed C282Y homozygotes and newly diagnosed homozygotes with elevated serum ferritin levels had higher prevalences of certain symptoms such as chronic fatigue (OR 2.8; 95% CI 1.34 to 5.95, and OR 2.0; 95% CI 1.07 to 3.75, respectively), and had more hyperpigmentation on physical examination (OR 4.7; 95% CI 1.50 to 15.06, and OR 3.7; 95% CI 1.10 to 12.16, respectively) and swelling or tenderness of the second and third metacarpophalangeal joints (OR 4.2; 95% CI 1.37 to 13.03, and OR 3.3; 95% CI 1.17 to 9.49, respectively) than control subjects. Joint stiffness was also more common among newly diagnosed C282Y homozygotes with elevated serum ferritin than among control subjects (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.38 to 5.30). However, the sex- and age-adjusted prevalences of self-reported symptoms and signs of liver disease, heart disease, diabetes and most other major clinical manifestations of hemochromatosis were similar in C282Y homozygotes and control subjects.
Conclusions: Some symptoms and conditions associated with hemochromatosis were more prevalent among C282Y homozygotes identified by screening than among control subjects, but prevalences of most outcomes were similar in C282Y homozygotes and controls in this primary care-based study.