The consequence of regular blood transfusion in patients with thalassemia major (TM) is iron overload. Herein, we report the long-term impact of chelation on liver iron concentration (LIC) and cardiac T2* MR in patients with TM. This is a retrospective cohort study over 10 years of adolescents and adults with TM aged at least 10 years who had their first cardiac T2* MR between September 2006 and February 2007. One-year chelation therapy was considered the unit of analysis. A total of 99 patients were included in this study with a median age of 18 years. The median cardiac T2* MR and LIC at baseline were 19 ms and 11.6 mg/g dw, respectively. During follow-up, 18 patients died and six underwent successful bone marrow transplantation. Factors associated with decreased survival were older age (HR 1.12, p = 0.014) and high risk cardiac T2* (HR 8.04, p = 0.004). The median cardiac T2* and LIC significantly improved over the 10-year follow-up period (p = 0.000011 and 0.00072, respectively). In conclusion, this long-term “real-life” study confirms that low cardiac T2* adversely impacts the overall survival in patients with TM. Higher baseline LIC predicts a larger reduction in LIC, and lower baseline cardiac T2* predicts a larger improvement in T2*.
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