Some With Sickle Cell Disease Face Stroke Risk

Neurological screening recommended for patients with this variety of blood disease

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FRIDAY, May 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Although they may appear normal, many children and teens with a common variety of sickle cell disease suffer silent strokes or have circulatory problems that put them at risk for overt stroke.

That warning comes from a study in this week's online edition of the Annals of Neurology.

The authors recommend neurological screening for all people with the beta-thalassemia form of sickle cell disease.

"All sickle beta-thalassemia patients should be routinely screened with MRI and tests of brain blood flow in order to detect abnormalities not easily seen in clinical examination," study author Dr. Dimitrios I. Zafeiriou, of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues did extensive testing on 21 children and young adults with S-beta-thalassemia. More than a third (38 percent) showed MRI evidence of previous silent strokes, even though they didn't exhibit significant deficits during neuropsychological testing.

And nearly a third of the patients, including many who hadn't suffered silent strokes, had abnormal blood flow to the brain.

"The next step will be to follow these patients in order to see if they will experience clinically overt stroke," Zafeiriou said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has information about beta-thalassemia.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, May 3, 2004

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