Background: Most adults with coeliac disease have a subclinical form of the disease and iron-deficiency anaemia may be the sole presenting symptom.
Aim: To evaluate demographic, clinical and biochemical characteristics of adult coeliac disease patients presenting with iron-deficiency anaemia.
Patients: A total of 108 iron-deficiency anaemia patients in whom coeliac disease has been diagnosed were studied. As a control group 108 non-coeliac iron-deficiency anaemia patients, comparable for sex and age, were studied.
Results: Of the 108 coeliac disease patients, 95 (88%) were female (mean age 34 years, range 19-72) and 13 (12%) were male (mean age 33 years, range 15-65). The median duration of iron-deficiency anaemia before diagnosis was 66 months in coeliac disease patients and 14 months in the iron-deficiency anaemia control group (P = 0.0001). The occurrence of at least one gastrointestinal symptom, not spontaneously reported, was observed in 92 (85%) patients with coeliac disease and in 67 (62%) patients in the control group (P = 0.001). The concomitant presence of diarrhoea, abdominal pain and abdominal bloating was detected in 14% patients with coeliac disease with respect to 3% in the control group (P = 0.005).
Conclusions: The vast majority of coeliac disease patients with iron-deficiency anaemia presentation were unaware of the gastrointestinal symptoms and this relationship is useful for diet compliance.