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Hemochromatosis Care and Treatment

Why Choose Treatment for Hemochromatosis at University of Colorado Hospital?

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UCH is the top center in the Rocky Mountain region for the treatment of iron disorders.

Our doctors are certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. The hospital has taken part in studies of the disorder.

What is Hemochromatosis?

Hemochromatosis (sometimes called "iron overload") occurs when the body absorbs too much iron from foods and other sources.

The short-term effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Joint pain

The long-term effects include damage to the:

  • Liver
  • Heart
  • Pancreas

About 1 million people in the U.S. have hemochromatosis. The most typical cause is a hereditary gene mutation.

Patient Education About Hemochromatosis

Living with Hemochromatosis

Hemochromatosis can be treated once it is diagnosed. Early diagnosis will help prevent long-term harm to your organs. You may require regular removal of red blood cells (phlebotomy) to stay healthy. The blood removal may cause fatigue.


Hemochromatosis is an inherited disease. If you are closely related to someone who has it, it is a good idea to have your iron levels checked.


Getting a Second Opinion About Hemochromatosis

You might seek a second opinion if your doctor cannot diagnose your condition.


Additional Hemochromatosis Resources

Medline Plus: Hemochromatosis

Medline Plus: Iron Deficiency Anemia

Centers for Disease Control

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Tests and Treatments for Hemochromatosis


  • Ferritin Test. The ferritin test is ordered to measure the levels of iron in your liver. The test can confirm a diagnosis of hemochromatosis.
  • Serum Iron Test. This blood test measures the amount of iron in transferrin, a protein that helps to transport iron throughout the body.
  • Total Iron Binding Capacity Test. This blood test measures how the capacity of transferrin to transport iron through the body.
  • Transferrin Saturation Test. This blood test shows how much iron binds to the transferrin that carries iron in the blood. A saturation level that is too high is an indication of hemochromatosis.
  • Liver Biopsy. A liver biopsy removes a small piece of liver for examination under a microscope. The biopsy can be used to determine the amount of iron that is stored in the liver.



The goal of treatment for hemochromatosis is to reduce the amount of iron in your blood. These treatments include:

  • Removal of red blood cells (phlebotomy)
  • Medications to remove excess iron through the urine (iron chelation)
  • Changes in diet, including limiting Vitamin C and alcohol

Your Medical Team

Doctors, nurses and other providers at UCH combine their expertise and experience to treat patients with iron disorders such as hemochromatosis. They are able to draw from the latest research findings to determine the most effective treatment plans.


Hemochromatosis Specialists

Hematologist – A doctor who treats diseases of the blood and the blood-forming organs.

Internist – A doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases that do not require surgery.

Oncologist – A doctor who diagnoses and treats cancer.

Pediatrician – A doctor who specializes in treating children.


Other Hemochromatosis Staff

Clinical care nurse – a nurse who specializes in the care of a specific patient population.


Hemochromatosis Research Trials

Research on hemochromatosis at UCH is aimed at finding ways to prevent iron from accumulating in the body.

A study to evaluate if a new oral medication is safe in preventing iron buildup. The study is done on sickle cell disease patients having repeated blood transfusions.

Contact: Kathryn Hassell, (303) 372-9070

Sponsor: Novartis