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Are cognitive processing problems associated with hereditary haemochromatosis?

posted on 2023-05-26, 17:37 authored by McElwee, G
Haemochromatosis is an inherited disease in which the body absorbs iron at an accelerated rate, leading to iron overload and oxidative damage. This occurs in major organs such as the liver, heart and pancreas but may also occur in the brain. The brain has a high iron requirement and few antioxidants compared to the rest of the body, making it particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. Brain iron overload has been implicated in the pathogenesis and progression of diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease. Case studies have investigated patients who have both haemochromatosis and altered cognitive functioning, although most have involved patients with advanced disease and additional complications, making it difficult to establish causation. If iron-mediated damage occurs within the brain in people with haemochromatosis then it is possible that processes such as memory, learning, attention and information processing speed are affected.These processes are sensitive to brain damage and are commonly influenced by concussion and metabolic disorders. Separating the primary effects of iron overload from secondary effects such as anxiety, depression, fatigue and pain is difficult as each impacts on cognition. Many people with haemochromatosis have complained of cognitive problems. However medical staff have attributed these problems to secondary effects of the disease. No study to date has attempted to investigate the primary effects of haemochromatosis on cognitive functioning using comprehensive neuropsychological tests and a large patient sample with matched controls.


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Copyright 2005 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Psych.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

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