A serum iron blood test identifies high iron levels within the blood circulation. Although it is not a routinely ordered blood test, the serum iron test is ordered when a physician suspects iron overload. Although iron plays an important role in the production of blood, the body’s iron levels typically do not affect the blood’s ability to clot properly.
High Iron Levels
High iron levels commonly indicate hemochromatosis, hemolytic anemia or sideroblastic anemia. However, iron levels might also increase after multiple blood transfusions, lead poisoning or iron injections into the muscle and with kidney or liver disease. Symptoms of iron overload include fatigue, lack of energy, muscle weakness, joint pain, abdominal pain, areas of darkened skin and decreased sex drive. A severe iron overload might also cause weight loss or heart problems. Problems with blood clotting are uncommon with high iron levels.
Increased Blood Clotting
Excessive blood clotting occurs with dysfunction of the body’s clotting function. A variety of diseases and medical conditions can cause excessive production of blood clots or slowed dissolving of blood clots; either way, it results in an excessive accumulation of clots. These conditions include antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, certain bone marrow disorders, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Atherosclerosis, vasculitis, diabetes, heart failure, obesity and metabolic syndrome can trigger excessive blood clotting in the heart and brain. Excessive clotting in the limbs is commonly caused by physical trauma to the body or remaining in the same position for an extended period of time. Increased systemic blood clotting might also be caused by genetic mutations, certain medications, pregnancy, dehydration and a history of smoking.
Decreased Blood Clotting
Thrombocytopenia is one of the most common causes of decreased blood clotting. This condition occurs when a decreased number of platelets circulate in the blood. Since platelets are responsible for the clumping of blood cells, a decreased number of platelets significantly affects the blood’s clotting ability. Decreased blood clotting might also be caused by hemophilia, a rare bleeding disorder that simply does not allow the blood to clot normally. Typically, hemophilia is an inherited disorder.
The Real Culprit
Although iron levels typically do not affect the body’s blood clotting abilities, vitamin K levels can impact the clotting process. In fact, a vitamin K deficiency is a common cause of decreased blood clotting. Vitamin K is one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Dietary sources include green leafy vegetables, soybean oil, canola oil, broccoli and olive oil. To avoid vitamin K deficiency and the associated blood clotting impairments, adult males over age 19 should take in at least 120 mg of vitamin K per day, while adult females 90 mg per day. Children, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers should consult a physician or dietitian for the appropriate daily intake recommendations of vitamin K.