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Lung function abnormal in sickle cell anemia

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, June 17 (Reuters) Ninety per cent of adults with sickle cell anemia have abnormal lung function tests, according to a report in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary disease in which red blood cells assume a sickle shape when body oxygen levels run low. This sets up a vicious circle, because the sickle cells do not efficiently deliver oxygen, leading to the formation of more sickle cells. Severe pain and life-threatening complications can arise during these sickle crises.

Lung complications are common for sickle cell patients, but few large studies have characterized the occurrence of abnormal lung function tests in this population, lead author Dr Elizabeth S Klings, from Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues note.

In the present study, lung function tests from 310 adults with sickle cell anemia were analyzed and correlated with sickle cell complications. Just 10 per cent of patients had completely normal tests, the report indicates.

The most common type of abnormality was a reduction in the lung's ability to expand. In addition, gases did not pass across lung tissue as easily as they do in healthy subjects.

Greater understanding of the use of lung function tests in sickle cell patients is important because it could lead to a better understanding of how shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels arise in these patients, they add.


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