The low group consisted of 20 people with LDH levels between 121 and 189 IU/L. The medium group was the largest with 162 people with LDH levels between 190 and 511 IU/L, while the high group contained 31 people with LDH levels above 512 IU/L.
The researchers found that low LDH levels conferred the lowest risk of developing leg ulcers, priapism and pulmonary hypertension.
“There was double the risk to the high group compared to the average group and about quadruple the risk from the low group to the high group,” said Kato.
The researchers also collected information on deaths for 49 months after the study began. Nineteen of the study participants died during that time. “Those with the highest LDH levels also have an increased risk of earlier mortality,” said Kato.
He added that the researchers suspect that the early mortality is connected to the higher incidence of pulmonary hypertension in those with high LDH levels.
“If you have sickle cell anemia, you should encourage your doctor to check the levels of LDH in your blood, and propose further testing, like echocardiography, if you have high LDH,” noted Kato. He said that early treatment of pulmonary hypertension might make it easier to control.
“This is an interesting study because LDH is a simple test that we do all the time already,” said hematologist Dr. Jay Brooks, chief of staff at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in Baton Rouge, La.
“It’s a very helpful marker that may let us know early who might get into trouble,” Brooks added.