PNH & Aplastic Anemia

In some instances, one bone marrow failure disease can progress into another. People with a diagnosis of aplastic anemia, are more likely to develop PNH. The reverse is also true: people with PNH are more likely to develop aplastic anemia.

In aplastic anemia, your bone marrow stops making new blood cells. When you have paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), redblood cells in your body break apart before they should. It happens because the proteins that would normally protect them from your immune system are missing. Your immune system attacks the red blood cells and breaks them down. For these reasons, doctors, typically hematologists, who treat people with aplastic anemia will also screen patients for the presence of PNH clones. When you have more than one bone marrow failure disease, you are considered to have a dual diagnosis. These diseases can affect people of any age. You aren’t born with it; it happens over time. Although it can be life-threatening, there are treatments to help you feel better and, in some cases, cure it.

We want to stress the point that not everyone with PNH has aplastic anemia and not everyone who has aplastic anemia has PNH. For more information on these diseases and treatments please visit our online learning center or contact our patient navigator at help@aamds.org.

Learn more about aplastic anemia.