Premature death and cardiac abnormalities are described in individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD), but the mechanisms are not well characterized. We tested the hypothesis that cardiac abnormalities in children with SCD are related to sleep-disordered breathing. We enrolled 44 children with SCD (mean age, 10.1 years; range, 4-18 years) in an observational study. Standard and tissue Doppler echocardiography, waking oxygen saturation averaged over 5 minutes, and overnight polysomnography were obtained in participants, each within 7 days. Eccentric left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy was present in 46% of our cohort. After multivariable adjustment, LV mass index was inversely related to average asleep and waking oxygen saturation. For every 1% drop in the average asleep oxygen saturation, there was a 2.1 g/m(2.7) increase in LV mass index. LV diastolic dysfunction, as measured by the E/E' ratio, was present in our subjects and was also associated with low oxygen saturation (sleep or waking). Elevated tricuspid regurgitant velocity (> or = 2.5 m/sec), a measure of pulmonary hypertension, was not predicted by either oxygen saturation or sleep variables with multivariable logistic regression analysis. These data provide evidence that low asleep and waking oxygen saturations are associated with LV abnormalities in children with SCD.