Hydroxyurea Effective With Few Side Effects in the Sickest Sickle Cell Patients
WebMD News Archive
"Perhaps the reason that hydroxyurea is reducing mortality is that it's
preventing these vascular complications that are the chief acute problem of
patients with sickle cell disease," says Steinberg. However, he notes that
this study was not designed to assess why the drug works. Steinberg recommends
that patients treated with hydroxyurea be followed closely.
"We selected the sickest patients [to study]," says Steinberg.
"So I think it's very good news that, in the sickest group of patients, we
appear to be extending their life. ... If it works this well in the very
sickest people, perhaps it will work equally well, or possibly better, in
people who are not so sick to begin with." Currently, the investigators are
attempting to corroborate their findings by continuing the study with more
patients over a longer period of time.
- Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes red blood
cells to form a sickle shape, leaving them fragile, unable to carry oxygen, and
more prone to clogging blood vessels.
- The drug hydroxyurea improves the ability of red blood cells to carry
oxygen and decreases breakage of the cells among patients with moderate to
severe sickle cell anemia.
- Patients taking hydroxyurea experienced lower death rates, decreased pain
attacks and fewer pneumonialike episodes.