Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Jul 31;99(31):e21419. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000021419.
Both total-body iron stores and inflammation influence the concentration of ferritin in the blood. Ferritin as an inflammatory marker might serve as a prognostic marker in the elderly. Therefore, we characterized the clinical circumstances and long-term outcomes of hyperferritinemia (> 1000 μg/L) in hospitalized elderly patients.A retrospective analysis of elderly (> 70 years) inpatients with ferritin levels of > 1000 μg/L in a tertiary medical center during a 3-year period. We obtained both laboratory and clinical data, assessing the potential association of high ferritin levels with long-term mortality.Overall, 242 patients (median age 79 years; median ferritin level 1436 μg/L) met the inclusion criteria and were followed for a median time of 18.6 months. Clinical outcomes were dismal for the whole cohort: the diagnosis of solid malignancy occurred in 23.5% of cases while 31% had a severe infection (ranging from sepsis to septic shock). The median survival time of the whole cohort was 4.7 months only. Within the cohort, risk stratification was feasible: higher ferritin levels differentiate between groups of patients who had a poor prognosis (with either septic shock or solid malignancy) and those who had a relatively favorable prognosis (patients diagnosed as suffering from sepsis without shock and patients with iatrogenic causes for hyperferritinemia).Hyperferritinemia in elderly inpatients is associated with high rates of mortality. Within this group of patients, differential ferritin levels enable further risk stratification. High ferritin levels in the elderly can differentiate the bad from the worst.