Natural history of blood pressure in sickle cell disease: risks for stroke and death associated with relative hypertension in sickle cell anemia

Am J Med. 1997 Feb;102(2):171-7. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(96)00407-x.


Purpose: Blood pressure in individuals who have sickle cell disease has been reported to be lower than published normal values. We determine whether and to what degree this is true, using data obtained as part of a large natural history study.

Patients and methods: Blood pressure was measured annually for 3,317 subjects with sickle cell disease who were 2 years old or older. Values obtained were compared with those reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I and II (NHANES I and II). They were further analyzed with respect to age, sex, height, weight, hematologic diagnosis, blood urea nitrogen and creatinine, stroke, and death.

Results: Blood pressure was significantly lower in subjects with sickle cell anemia than published norms for age, race, and sex, a difference that increased with age. It correlated with body mass index, hemoglobin, measures of renal function and age, but the strength of the correlation varied among age and sex subgroups. The risk for occlusive stroke increased with systolic but not diastolic pressure. Mortality was related to elevated blood pressure in males (P < 0.05) and to a lesser extent in females (P = 0.10). In subjects with hemoglobin SC disease, blood pressure also deviated from normal but to a lesser degree.

Conclusion: Blood pressure is generally lower than normal in individuals with sickle cell anemia. Those with high values relative to this population had an increased risk of stroke and death. Blood pressure should be monitored but values obtained must be assessed relative to the lower values expected for patients with this disease. Those with blood pressure values above 140/90 mm Hg should be evaluated and considered for treatment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / mortality
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / physiopathology*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hemoglobin SC Disease / complications
  • Hemoglobin SC Disease / mortality
  • Hemoglobin SC Disease / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate