Treatment of Haemochromatosis
Treatment is simple and effective and consists of the regular removal of blood by venesection (similar to donating blood). This is also sometimes called phlebotomy. Up to 500mL of blood is removed at regular intervals until the iron levels in the blood return to within the normal range. The body then some of the excess iron stored to make new red blood cells.
Initially venesection will usually be performed once a week, depending on the amount of iron overload. Treatment may continue at this frequency for up to 2 years and sometimes can be longer, it will depend on the amount of iron stored in the body. Whilst the treatment is being carried out the levels of stored iron (Serum Ferritin) will be monitored and treatment will usually continue until levels indicate normal iron stores.
However, this is not the end of the story, excess iron will continue to be absorbed so the individual will still need occasional venesections, knows as maintenance stage. Typically this mean every 3 to 4 months for the rest of one’s lifetime. Monitoring of Transferrin Saturation and Serum Ferritin will continue to be carried your by your GP or Consultant to determine if venesection is required more or less often.