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Beta-thalassemia major, transfusions, iron overload, chelation, Tunisia
Beta-thalassemia major (TM) remains to be one of the major health problems particularly in developing countries. Tunisia is a part of the Mediterranean countries mostly affected by this disease which is highly concentrated in small towns in families with low-income earners. The main objectives of this study are to provide a description of the demographic, clinical features and transfusion-related complications in patients with TM living in Tunisia. A standardized questionnaire was sent to clinicians throughout 33 different medical institutions caring for thalassemic patients. 391 transfusion dependant thalassemic patients with a median age of 10.7 years (range 3 months- 31 years) were included in the study.The majority were originated from the north west of the country .A moderate overload between 1501 and 2500ng/ml was found in 61patients, while 81 patients (26.9%) had ferritin level more than 2500 ng/ml and greater than 5000ng/ml in 21 patients (6.9%). 51 patients died from complications related to their disease. Heart failure was the main cause of death. The incidence of cardiac, endocrine, and infectious complications will be reviewed. Preventive measures such as health education, carrier screening and premarital screening remain the best ways for lowering the incidence of these diseases, which might be reflected in financial saving, social benefits and health benefits.
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