Can Iron Deficiency Cause High Blood Pressure?

In this article, we will take a close look at iron deficiency, a common nutritional disorder. We will explore its potential link to high blood pressure, understand the causes and symptoms of iron deficiency, and discuss how it is diagnosed and treated. This comprehensive guide will provide valuable insights into this prevalent health issue.
Jakub Gwiazdecki

Jakub Gwiazdecki

Fifth year medical student at the Medical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava.

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Can iron deficiency cause high blood pressure?

Yes, there are many studies indicating that high blood pressure can occur in people with iron deficiency. However, the connection is not fully understood.

Studies on thousands of participants found that a higher intake of iron is associated with lower blood pressure [1]. On the other hand, low iron consumption was found to increase blood pressure [2].

Another study found similar effects in rat newborns. When the females suffered from iron deficiency during pregnancy, the child had higher blood pressure [3].

All these findings indicate that iron is associated with blood pressure. Even though the exact mechanism is unknown, it is clear that iron deficiency can lead to increased blood pressure.

It is important to note that in most cases of iron deficiency, the blood pressure will not be elevated significantly.

A visible change in blood pressure can be noticed first in severe anemia. In this condition, the heart will beat faster to compensate for the low oxygen in the blood.

What are the causes of iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency can be caused by many factors. Here are the most common causes of iron deficiency:

  • insufficient intake of iron [4]
  • blood loss, for example, from menstrual bleeding or gastrointestinal bleeding conditions [4]
  • poor iron absorption, like in celiac disease [4]
  • parasitic infections [5].

Should you visit a doctor if you have iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia in the world. Iron is a crucial element in your life. It can be found in hemoglobin, a key component of red blood cells.

The main function of iron in red blood cells is the binding and transport of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. In iron deficiency, this function decreases. With time, less and less oxygen is available for the organs.

In severe iron deficiency anemia, your internal breathing is impaired. Even when you are breathing, your cells may not get enough oxygen.

Therefore, when you experience characteristic symptoms, you must visit a doctor. Once the physician confirms the iron deficiency, in most cases, it can be easily corrected.

What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency can manifest in a variety of ways, many of which may initially go unnoticed.

Common symptoms include:

  • fatigue [6]
  • weakness [6]
  • pale skin [7, 8]
  • shortness of breath [7, 8]
  • dizziness or headaches [6]
  • brittle nails concavity or spoon-shaped depressions [6]
  • fast heartbeat [7, 8]
  • cravings for ice or dirt [7, 8]
  • cold hands and feet [6]
  • tingling or a crawling feeling in the legs [7, 8]
  • difficulty concentrating and mood changes [9].

Should you pay attention to your iron levels?

If you are a pregnant woman, you need to screen for iron deficiency [10]. Appropriate levels of iron ensure the proper development of the fetus.

Also, one-year-old children should be controlled for their iron levels [10]. Especially at a young age, the demand for iron is high.

Additionally, women who experience heavy periods should remember to investigate their iron levels [11]. If you have heavy bleeding, you should pay attention to your diet and possible symptoms of iron deficiency.

People with gastrointestinal problems like Crohn’s disease or colorectal cancer should also review their iron blood concentration [11]. Especially, chronic bleeding often causes unnoticed iron deficiency. When you see blood in your stool or your stool is black without a known reason, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible.

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Jakub Gwiazdecki

Jakub Gwiazdecki

Jakub is in his fifth year as a medical student at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. He has special interested in cardiology and in patient-centered medicine. His love for heart health isn't just book-smarts; he wants to know how it works, what it means for our feelings, and how key it is for health and happiness. Jakub thinks real good health care comes from always putting the patient at the centre, treating each person as a whole.