Detecting a serious sickle cell disease complication

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 14, 2006

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National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute researchers have found that the hormone known as brain natriuretic peptide -- BNP, which can be detected by a simple blood test, can identify patients with sickle cell disease who have developed pulmonary hypertension. The same hormone was determined to be a clear predictor of death in adult sickle cell patients.

BNP is released by the heart ventricles and is also used as a predictor of death in heart failure patients. The new study was published in the July 19 Journal of the American Medical Association.

About 30% of sickle cell patients have pulmonary hypertension, which often leads to heart failure and is a major risk factor for death in adults with this disease. Currently, echocardiograms and other heart tests are used to diagnose the condition but there has not been a blood test to help detect it.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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