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Minister for Health Simon Harris TD today marked World Haemochromatosis Awareness Week (1st June – 7th June).
Haemochromatosis is a hereditary iron overload disorder. Hereditary haemochromatosis is more common in Ireland than anywhere else in the world, with 1 in 83 Irish people predisposed to the condition.
The Irish Haemochromatosis Association is working with its international counterparts to raise awareness of hereditary haemochromatosis during World Haemochromatosis Week.
The aim is to strengthen awareness of iron overload as early diagnosis results in better health outcomes for individuals. The treatment is simple and effective and involves removing blood from a person diagnosed with the condition. However, as the symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and joint pain, can be confused with other illnesses, the hereditary haemochromatosis often goes undetected. If untreated hereditary haemochromatosis can cause serious health problems including liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, arthritis and diabetes.
The Minister said, ‘’Haemochromatosis is the most common hereditary disease in this country, yet it can be treated very effectively. During World Haemochromatosis Week I would like to thank the Irish Haemochromatosis Association for their work in raising awareness of this disorder. I would encourage individuals suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, depression and joint pain to consider hereditary haemochromatosis as a possible cause. Early detection is vital to ensure the effective management and treatment of this condition.”
Individuals with hereditary haemochromatosis can donate blood at all Irish Blood Transfusion Service fixed and mobile blood donor clinics free of charge. Hereditary haemochromatosis donors should make an appointment with the IBTS before attending a clinic. For further information on donor eligibility and clinic venues nationwide, please visit the website www.giveblood.ie.
- Haemochromatosis or iron overload is a serious condition in which too much iron is absorbed and stored in the body.
- Untreated haemochromatosis can cause liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, arthritis, diabetes and general fatigue.
- Initial tests for haemochromatosis are simple blood tests called “iron studies” that can be ordered by your doctor. Diagnosis is confirmed by a genetic test.
- Treatment is simple, safe and effective. This consists of regular removal of blood, known as a venesection. The procedure is the same as for blood donors.
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