High Prevalence of Fibromyalgia in Patients with HFE-related Hereditary Hemochromatosis

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Subjects with HFE-related hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) may present with arthralgias, fatigue, and stiffness, yet little is known on the presence of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) in these subjects. We determined the prevalence of FMS in a cohort of subjects with HH and evaluated its relationship to subject demographics, disease status, and quality of life.


In a cross-sectional study we collected data on 395 consecutive subjects diagnosed with HH who were attending a tertiary referral Hepatology outpatient clinic at Galway University Hospital, Ireland (between October 2009 and June 2010). Subjects underwent a standard assessment including history, clinical examination, and functional assessments for pain and disability. Univariate logistic regression was applied to determine risk factors independently associated with prevalent FMS in these subjects.


Three hundred ninety-five subjects met the inclusion criteria. Mean age was 43 years (range, 21 to 59 y) and 260 (66%) were males. One hundred seventy (43%) of the subjects were diagnosed with FMS. Among those with fibromyalgia fatigue and ≥11 tender points were present in all of the subjects, widespread pain in 150 (88%), depression in 70 (41%), and arthralgia/joint stiffness in 70 (41%). In subjects with FMS 33% reported some functional impairment (HAQ-DI>0), with 10% reporting moderate-severe functional impairment (HAQ-DI≥1.5).


This study reveals a high prevalence of FMS (43%) among subjects with HFE-related hemochromatosis. Prospective studies are needed to better understand the risk factors for FMS in such patients.

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