Genetic haemochromatosis (GH) is a relatively common condition in the UK but despite this, it is under diagnosed. GH is autosomal recessive disorder, so to develop it you need to inherit a defective gene from each parent. GH causes an increased absorption of iron from the diet which over time, is stored throughout the body’s organs. Because of the generic nature of early symptoms of GH such as tiredness and joint pain, diagnosis can be missed, misdiagnosed, or diagnosed late. A late diagnosis increases the risk of serious complications such as liver cirrhosis, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, and pituitary problems.

Early detection and treatment can lessen these risks and by increasing nurses’ knowledge of this condition may lead to earlier diagnosis and prompt treatment. Diagnosis is made on blood tests. Treatment, for those that need it, is lifelong and consists of regular venesections where approximately 450mls of blood is removed at regular intervals. Nurses are the patient advocate and as such, it is important that nurses understand the psychological issues that can develop for patients and their families regarding diagnosis and treatment. By increasing nurses understanding of this condition they can offer their support and best practice ongoing care in all aspects of the patient journey.

We have put together a series of additional reading resources. These can be viewed online or ordered for free (allow 2-3 weeks for delivery). You may also like to review our further reading suggestions.

Next steps

  • Take the post-training assessment to achieve CPD points associated with this eLearning course. The assessment has 25 multiple choice questions. You need to achieve a score of 20 or higher to pass the assessment and receive the CPD points. Please allow 21 days for receipt of your CPD award certificate, by email.