(Hereditary Hemochromatosis [HH]; Primary Hemochromatosis; Familial Hemochromatosis; Secondary Hemochromatosis)
How to Say It: He-moe-chrome-uh-toe-sis
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Hemochromatosis is a disorder where iron builds up in the body. Early treatment can improve outcomes.
There are two types:
Hereditary hemochromatosis is caused by a faulty gene that is passed from parents to children.
The secondary type may be caused by:
Things that may raise the risk of HH are:
Things that may raise the risk of the secondary type are:
Most people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests will be done to check iron levels. This is enough to make the diagnosis. More tests may be done to look for a cause.
The goal of treatment is to lower iron levels. Choices are:
HH cannot be prevented. The secondary type may be prevented. It depends on the cause.
American Hemochromatosis Society
American Society of Hematology
Hemochromatosis. American Liver Foundation website. Available at: https://liverfoundation.org/for-patients/about-the-liver/diseases-of-the-liver/hemochromatosis. Accessed Jamuary 12, 2021.
Hemochromatosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hemochromatosis. Accessed January 12, 2021.
Hemochromatosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
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Accessed January 12, 2021.
Pilling L, Tamosauskaite J. Common conditions associated with hereditary haemochromatosis genetic variants: cohort study in UK Biobank BMJ 2019; 364.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 1/12/2021
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