Iron supplements could be used to prevent deep vein thrombosis and other life-threatening blood clots, new research shows.
Each year, one in 1,000 people in Britain is affected by clots that form in the veins, and scientists now believe the risk could rise in those with a lack of iron.
DVT is often associated with long distance air travel and other situations that involve being immobile for long periods of time.
Clots frequently form in the legs causing painful swelling and, in some cases, a danger that lumps of blood will dislodge and travel to the lungs with fatal results.
Researchers at Imperial College London studied 609 patients with blood vessel disease haemorrhagic telangiectasia, who have a higher risk of blood clots.
They found that this increased risk disappeared when the HHT sufferers took iron supplements.
Many of the patients had low iron levels, because of iron loss through excessive bleeding – a symptom of HHT.
The study, published in the journal Thorax, found that a blood-iron level of six micromoles per litre compared with the normal mid-range figure of 17 micromoles led to a 2.5-fold increase in venous thrombosis risk.