Tareq Kasshout, MD

Kaluza J, Wolk A , Larsson SC. Heme Iron Intake and Risk of Stroke: A Prospective Study of Men. Stroke. 2013; 44: 334-339.

In a study recently published online in Stroke, Kaluza and colleagues are proposing an association between high heme iron intake and increased risk of stroke in normal weight patients. Inconsistent results were reported in the past about the relation between total iron intake and risk of stroke. This study was the first to separately differentiate between heme iron and non-heme iron in its relationship to stroke.

This population-based prospective Cohort of Swedish Men (COSM) showed, after 11.7 years of follow up, that intake of heme iron, but not non-heme iron, is associated with an increased risk of total stroke and cerebral infarction. This increased risk of stroke was only observed among men in the highest quintile of heme iron intake. Moreover, this observed association was confined only to the normal weight men.
The potential adverse effect of excessive heme iron intake, as based on results from animal studies, may be due to its pro-oxidative properties. However, the effect of reducing heme iron intake on risk of stroke in primary prevention is yet to be validated in further prospective studies.