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Study identifies 'silent' stroke risk factors for children with sickle cell anemia
Date:11/17/2011

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2011 -- Factors such as low hemoglobin levels, increased systolic blood pressure, and male gender are linked to a higher risk of silent cerebral infarcts (SCIs), or silent strokes, in children with sickle cell anemia (SCA), according to results from a large, first-of-its-kind study published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Silent strokes are the most common form of neurological injury found in SCA, with more than 25 percent of children with the disorder suffering a SCI by age six,1 and nearly 40 percent by age 14.2 Strokes occur in patients with SCA as a result of low hemoglobin levels in the blood. Because hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen to the blood, the body compensates for low hemoglobin levels by increasing blood flow to the brain, raising patients' risk for brain injury, including these silent strokes.

"Young patients with a history of silent strokes have an increased risk of future overt strokes and new or increasingly severe silent stroke-related events, and have poorer cognitive function than children with sickle cell disease who have normal brain MRIs," said Michael R. DeBaun, MD, MPH, first author and initiator of the study and Director of the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease at Vanderbilt University. "Children with silent strokes have a much higher risk of poor academic performance, and over the long term, we see a higher proportion of these young adults requiring special education or being retained in school."

While silent strokes have been well documented in older adults, there has been limited research available to support clinical risk factors for silent strokes in children with
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Contact: Lindsey Love
webmaster@hematology.org
202-552-4925
American Society of Hematology
Source:Eurekalert

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