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Serum ferritin values in primary care: are high values overlooked?


Objective To examine serum ferritin values in iron-replete patients in primary care and determine the action taken on those patients with very high values (>1000 μg/l).

Methods Serum ferritin values from 4170 consecutive patients in primary care were examined. All measurements had been made at the request of the general practitioner.

Results Ferritin values in males reached a steady state by 30 years and did not increase thereafter. Values above 300 μg/l were found in 17% of all males. Female values rose progressively with age. Less than 10% of women <50 years had values >100 μg/l. By the age of 70 years, 8% had values >300 μg/l. Ferritin values >1000 μg/l were found in 59 patients. This rise was neither explained nor investigated in 32 cases.

Conclusion Raised ferritin values are frequently found in samples submitted from primary care and most so in adult males. The authors also conclude that general practitioners require more guidance from haematologists in the management of patients with very high values.

  • Haematology
  • haemochromatosis
  • iron

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