Intravenous iron therapy as a possible risk factor for atherosclerosis in end-stage renal disease

Int Heart J. 2005 Mar;46(2):255-64. doi: 10.1536/ihj.46.255.


Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arterial wall, with increasing wall thickness representing an early event in the progression of the disease. It has been suggested that iron overload, as assessed by increased serum ferritin concentration, may be a risk factor for atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between the influence of intravenous (IV) iron therapy and ferritin levels and carotid intima media thickness (C-IMT) in dialysis patients. Sixty patients (51 +/- 14) years were divided into two groups according to their IMT obtained by ultrasound; group I (high risk) and group II (low risk). The parameters assessed were serum creatinine, urea, calcium, phosphorus, hemoglobin, albumin, uric acid, iron, ferritin, and lipid levels. Thirty-eight patients (88%) in group I and 5 patients (12%) in group II received IV iron therapy while 5 patients (29%) in group I and 12 patients (71%) in group II (P < 0.001) did not receive IV iron therapy. Ferritin levels were higher in group I than in group II (581 +/- 303 and 306 +/- 224) (P < 0.001). C-IMT measurements correlated with serum ferritin and with the intravenous iron dose received during the 24 months preceding the study (r = 0.315, P = 0.015; r = 0.471, P = 0.001). The findings indicate that IV iron therapy and elevated serum ferritin levels may cause an increase in the incidence of atherosclerosis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arteriosclerosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology*
  • Carotid Artery, Common / pathology
  • Diabetes Complications / complications
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Iron / adverse effects
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking
  • Tunica Intima / pathology
  • Ultrasonography


  • Ferritins
  • Iron