A new study indicates that male children with sickle cell anemia (SCA) who exhibit low hemoglobin levels and increased systolic blood pressure have an increased risk of silent stroke. Researchers report that they analyzed data from the international multi-center Silent Cerebral Infarct Multi-Center Clinical Trial (SIT).

The SIT trial was designed to determine the effectiveness of blood transfusion therapy in preventing SCA patients’ recurrent silent strokes. Researchers reportedly used a cross-sectional study to evaluate 814 children with SCA aged 5 years to 15 years with no history of overt stroke or seizures. Researchers say the patients’ clinical history and baseline laboratory values were evaluated and paired with brain MRI scans to confirm silent stroke.

The study’s results suggest that silent strokes occurred in 251 of the 814 SCA patients. According to researchers, the data also indicated that lower levels of hemoglobin, higher baseline systolic blood pressure, and male gender, were linked to a higher risk of silent stroke.

Michael R. DeBaun, MD, MPH, director of the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn, led the study. Debaun comments on the study’s findings, “This study confirms our original hypothesis that risk factors for silent strokes in the general population are also risk factors for pediatric patients with sickle cell anemia,” DeBaun says. DeBaund adds that the results will also allow researchers to focus their efforts on tactics to protect against silent stroke in children with SCA.

The study was published in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Source: American Society of Hematology