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New study suggests sickle cell disease may affect brain function in adults
Date:5/11/2010

d them to 47 healthy study participants of similar age and education levels from the same communities. All of the participants were African-American.

More sickle cell disease patients scored lower on measures such as intellectual ability, short-term memory, processing speed, and attention, than participants in the healthy group. The sickle cell disease participants did not have a history of end-organ failure, stroke, high blood pressure, or other conditions that might otherwise affect brain function.

"We need to study whether existing therapies, such as blood transfusions, can help maintain brain function, or perhaps even reverse any loss of function," noted Elliott P. Vichinsky, M.D., of the Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland, principal investigator of the study and the lead author of the paper. "These effects were found in patients who have clinically mild sickle cell disease, which raises the question of whether therapies should be given to all patients to help prevent these problems from developing."

Researchers involved in this study are recruiting patients with sickle cell disease into a clinical trial to determine whether blood transfusions may help preserve cognitive function. Participants will receive transfusions every three or four weeks for six months as part of the clinical study. Information about this study can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov, search for NCT00850018.

Sickle cell disease affects about 70,000 Americans. At one time, many children died from the disease, but new therapies have enabled sickle cell disease patients to live well into middle age or beyond. As more people with sickle cell disease are living into adulthood, health care providers are uncovering previously unrecognized complications.

Studies of brain function in children who have sickle cell disease have suggested that some children with the disease, even if they have not suff
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Contact: NHLBI Office of Communications
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NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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