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Brain Natriuretic Peptide Signals Sickle Cell Death Risk

Data from two studies show BNP levels above 160 pg/mL correlate with pulmonary hypertension

WEDNESDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Elevated levels of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide, or NT-proBNP, are associated with pulmonary hypertension and death in patients with sickle cell disease, according to a report in the July 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The findings provide further support for a mechanistic link between hemolytic anemia and pulmonary hypertension.

Roberto F. Machado, M.D., and investigators from the Multicenter Study of Hydroxyurea in Sickle Cell Anemia (MSH) study measured NT-proBNP in two different groups of sickle cell disease patients: one from the MSH study (121 patients) and one from the NIH Sickle Cell Disease-Pulmonary Hypertension Screening Study (230 participants).

The investigators found that NT-proBNP levels were higher in sickle cell patients with hypertension and were linked to tricuspid regurgitation velocity. NT-proBNP levels of 160 picograms/mL or greater predicted hypertension correctly 78 percent of the time and caused an 11.9 percent to 19.5 percent absolute increase in risk of death.

"This is the first readily available laboratory biomarker to provide prognostic information in this population since white blood cell counts and fetal hemoglobin levels were demonstrated to be independent predictors of death in the Cooperative Study of Sickle Cell Disease," the authors write.

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