Background: Animal studies have indicated the effects of iron stores in the process of the formation of free radicals and low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation. Oxidation of lipids, especially LDLs, by oxidants such as iron plays a central role in atherogenesis. As a result, an evaluation of the iron stores of the body in patients with coronary artery diseases is of utmost importance.
Methods: In this prospective study, 112 patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and 63 individuals without this disease were investigated. The coronary condition of the subjects was determined with coronary angiography. The amount of iron, ferritin, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and HDL was measured in both groups. The patients were also evaluated for known CAD risk factors, including diabetes mellitus, hypertension, smoking, family history of CAD, and hyperuricemia. Patients suffering from anemia, renal and hepatic diseases, and those with a history of malabsorption, hemochromatosis, chronic infections, or immunological and inflammatory disorders and patients with neoplastic diseases and cardiac failure were excluded from the study. Moreover, all the subjects had a similar socio-economic status.
Results: Mean serum iron was 12.9±4 micromoles/liter and 10.8±5 micromoles/liter in the group with CAD (case) and the group without CAD (control), respectively, which were significantly different (P<0.001). Mean serum ferritin was 12675 microgram/liter in the case group, while it was 101±75 microgram/liter in the control group, the difference also being significant (P<0.005).
Conclusion: The findings indicated that the serum level of iron and ferritin - excluding other known risk factors - in patients with CAD is higher compared to the subjects without CAD. It may, therefore, be possible that iron stores in the body can play a role in the atherosclerotic process.