Can High Iron Levels Impact Your Blood Pressure?

A high iron level in the body is medically known as hemochromatosis. High iron levels in the body occur when excessive iron is absorbed from the food by the body. If there is an excess amount of iron in the body, it gets automatically stored in the liver, pancreas, heart, and other organs as well. Any damage to pancreas might lead to diabetes making things complicated further. High iron levels can be a primary hereditary condition or a secondary condition caused by some other pre-existing health conditions as well. Whether it is hereditary or a secondary condition, if left untreated, high iron levels can cause damage to multiple organs. It even makes the skin of bronze color due to iron overload in the system or can lead to heart disease or even cancer.

Women are prone to losing blood during menstruation so high iron levels or hemochromatosis is usually less common in females than males. In contrary to males, women suffer from low iron levels.

High iron levels can impact a number of bodily functions. There is a common doubt as to whether high iron levels can impact the blood pressure levels as well. Let us look into it in details and also see what can be done to prevent any adverse effects.

Can High Iron Levels Impact your Blood Pressure?

Iron levels can have negative impact over different organs of the body. High iron level is a big risk factor for mortality and is the major cause of several disabilities all over the globe. Obesity or being overweight, low sodium intake, high potassium intake as well as high iron levels can affect the blood pressure levels remarkably.

As per several research studies, a significant inverse relationship has been observed between total iron and non-haem iron levels and the systolic blood pressure.(1, 2) On the other hand intake of red meat showed a direct linkage with increase in systemic blood pressure levels.(1)

Apparently, if the iron levels go up in the body then heart attack and stroke risks also increase. As per a Japanese study, high iron dose injections cause several adverse effects in the body like anaphylactic reactions.(3)

Iron is basically considered as a risk factor in itself which can trigger a series of destructive reactions in the body leading to hardening and thickening of the arteries and thus, causing atherosclerosis. High iron levels affect blood pressure and heart in series which can cause and fatal outcome in the form of heart attack as well. Interestingly, it was found that people who donate blood, in a way deplete the iron levels and become less prone to heart attack and blood pressure.(4)

Is High Iron Levels Linked with Complicated Organ Failures?

A high iron level or hemochromatosis affects the blood pressure levels and in turn, might cause abnormal heart rhythms and complete heart failure.(4) Such condition needs proper treatment to eliminate the excess of iron from the heart and might take a few months of time to treat the condition.

In another research it was found that iron might cause trouble to the pancreas, mainly if present in excess amount. This itself can be a trigger for diabetes as well.(5)

Excess of iron loads might make the organs fail to work whereas insufficient iron supply to them might make them incapable of carrying oxygen to different parts of the body.

How to Remove High Iron Levels from the Body?

A protein is known to regulate levels of iron present in the body. This protein plays an extraordinarily important role in preventing high blood pressure buildup which can affect the lungs. The protein also helps in stabilizing the red blood cell concentration and this was revealed in a research done by the National Institutes of Health.(6)

Excessive iron content can be removed by certain procedures. Moreover, if iron hits any particular organ and causes damage then besides iron elimination, treatment will also be required to reverse the possible damage caused by it.

Mostly, repetitive venesection is enough to eliminate excess iron which involves blood removal of a certain amount from the body.(7) It is almost similar to donating some amount of blood. Once this is done, the body remakes the lost blood using the stored cells and hence brings down the iron content in the body.(8) In the meantime, the main cause of high iron levels in the body has to be fixed to prevent recurrence of the condition in future.

A doctor can be the best person to assist and answer any related queries and guide with a proper procedure involved. The whole procedure of venesection might require multiple sessions and the frequency of the session can only be suggested by the doctor after evaluation of the condition. In case of very high ferritin levels, more blood needs to be removed in comparison to mild to moderately higher levels of iron or ferritin. Usually, at the beginning of venesection treatment procedure, the frequency of sessions can be weekly which can eventually come down to every alternate week and even monthly with gradually stopping it once levels reach normal values. However, in case of any complications, the doctor can even increase the sessions as well.

Conclusion

Presence of iron is essential for the body. However, the presence of too high or too low iron levels can both cause multiple problems, and among them, one is alteration in the blood pressure. High iron levels have a direct impact over the blood pressure of each organ as well as of the whole body wherein it increases tremendously. Not only this, it can also lead to multiple organ damage. In order to control it, the root cause needs to be identified. High iron levels must be handled through the procedure of venesection to reverse any damage caused to the organs and to ensure normal body functions without high levels of blood pressure in the vessels and organs.(9)

Any abrupt fluctuations in the blood pressure must always be analyzed with the help of a doctor. Eating a well-balanced diet can help in minimizing iron issues and hence can prevent blood pressure issues caused because of iron levels.

References:

  1. Tzoulaki I, Brown IJ, Chan Q, Van Horn L, Ueshima H, Zhao L, et al. (2008) Relation of iron and red meat intake to blood pressure: Cross sectional epidemiological study. The BMJ. 337:a258. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658466/#
  2. Zhu, Y., Chen, G., Bo, Y., Liu, Y. (2019, Aug) Markers of iron status, blood pressure and incident hypertension among Chinese Students. Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases. 29(8): 830-836. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31255378
  3. Cancado R.D., Muñoz M. Rev Bras Hematol Hemoter. 2011;33(6):461–469.
  4. Stranges, S., and E. Guallar. ( 2008, Jul) Dietary Iron And Blood Pressure. BMJ. 337: a547-a547. Retrieved from https://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a547
  5. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/haemochromatosis
  6. Lack Of Iron Regulating Protein Contributes To High Blood Pressure Of The Lungs. National Institutes Of Health (NIH), 2013. Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/lack-iron-regulating-protein-contributes-high-blood-pressure-lungs
  7. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-%20HealthProfessional/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK269373/
  9. Barton, J.C. et. al. (1998, Dec) Management of Hemochromatosis. Hemochomatosis Management Working Group. Annals of Internal Medicine. 129(11): 932-9. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9867745

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