Objective: To assess the effects of sickle cell anemia (SCA) on the right ventricle (RV).
Study design: Echocardiograms of 32 children with SCA were compared with age-matched healthy controls. RV measurements included diastolic area index, fractional area change, free-wall mass index, ejection time corrected for heart rate (ET(c)), and tricuspid regurgitation (TR) gradient.
Results: SCA subjects had elevated RV ETc (mean +/- standard deviation, 0.369 +/- 0.030 sec vs 0.351 +/- 0.022 sec; P < .01), diastolic area index (19.9 +/- 2.4 cm(2)/m(2) vs 13.2 +/- 2.1 cm(2)/m(2); P < .01) and free-wall mass index (33.2 +/- 4.4 g/m(2) vs 23.9 +/- 4.3 g/m(2); P < .01), whereas RV fractional area change (37 +/- 8% vs 36 +/- 4%) was not different from controls. Although RV diastolic area index in SCA paralleled the normal range over time, RV free-wall mass index continued to gradually rise throughout childhood (r = .42; P < .05). TR gradients > 2.5 m/sec, consistent with pulmonary hypertension, were found in 5 (16%) of SCA subjects, all older than 9 years.
Conclusions: RV preload and systolic function do not worsen during childhood in SCA; however, RV mass index and the prevalence of pulmonary hypertension increase consistent with rising pulmonary vascular resistance.