Sickle cell disease 'affects brain function in adults'

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Washington, May 12 (ANI): In a new study, adults with sickle cell disease scored worse on memory function tests than healthy adults, suggesting that the blood disorder may affect brain function.

As pert of the research, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, scientists tested cognitive functioning of 149 adult sickle cell disease patients (between the ages of 19 and 55) and compared 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.

Researchers at 12 sites within the NHLBI-supported Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers conducted the study.

"This study suggests that some adult patients who have sickle cell disease may develop cognitive problems, such as having difficulty organizing their thoughts, making decisions, or learning, even if they do not have severe complications such as stroke related to sickle cell disease," said NHLBI Acting Director Susan B. Shurin.

"Such challenges can tremendously affect a patient's quality of life, and we need to address these concerns as part of an overall approach to effectively managing sickle cell disease," she added.

The results of the study are published in the May 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. (ANI)

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