Serum ferritin levels and other indicators of organic iron as risk factors or markers in coronary artery disease

Rev Port Cardiol. 2003 Feb;22(2):185-95; discussion 197-201.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Background: Several international studies have discussed whether serum ferritin is a risk marker in coronary heart disease. The objective of this study was to evaluate the importance of serum ferritin levels and other indicators of organic iron as possible risk factors or markers in coronary artery disease. Secondly, the classical factors were studied in order to identify possible associations with organic iron markers.

Methods and results: In a medical institution, 1263 patients underwent cinecoronary arteriography from December 1997 to May 1998. A sample of 400 patients was separated, at random, to establish a comparative clinical study between two groups: group A, comprising 200 individuals with coronary atherosclerosis and group B, comprising 200 patients without coronary atherosclerosis, as confirmed by cinecoronary arteriography. From group A, 182 patients (130 males) and from group B, 157 (96 females) did not show any exclusion criteria and were considered eligible. All women were in the postmenopausal period. The blood samples were collected by a biologist, between 8.30 and 9.0 a.m., after a 12-hour fast and a 36-hour non-smoking period. In order to analyze all results, univariate analysis, the logistic regression technique and the interactive forward stepwise method were used in order to optimize the model and to predict the chances of coronary atherosclerosis. The results of the logistic regression with all the variables analyzed showed that male gender, age, smoking, triglycerides/VLDL interaction, increased serum LDL-C levels and decreased serum HDL-C levels are important to predict the chances of coronary atherogenesis.

Conclusion: Serum levels of ferritin and of other organic iron indicators--transferrin saturation, total iron-binding capacity, hemoglobin and hematocrit--were neither risk factors nor risk markers for coronary atherosclerosis. Paradoxically, serum iron levels were higher in the group without atherosclerosis. In this study, variables classically considered as risk factors were similar to those in the literature.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, VLDL / blood
  • Coronary Artery Disease / blood*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Iron Compounds / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Cholesterol, VLDL
  • Iron Compounds
  • Triglycerides
  • Ferritins