How much do you know about Sickle Cell Disease? A disease that affects approximately 100,000 Americans (via), Sickle Cell Disease is a group of inherited disorders affecting oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Normally round cells become distorted or sickle-shaped, which makes the cells catch on one another and clump together. They no longer flow freely through blood vessels and the cells become stiff, sticky, and break down. This reduces the amount of oxygen in the body and can affect many organs, creating symptoms like the following:
Sickle Cell Disease can cause:
- Cardiopulmonary: Pulmonary Hypertension, ACS, L sided heart disease
- Circulatory: DVT, PE, leg ulcers, hand, and foot syndrome
- GI/GU: Cholelithiasis, biliary sludge, acute choledocholithiasis, CRF, and Priapism in men.
- Bone or bone marrow infarcts, osteonecrosis which can cause permanent gait abnormalities and limb length discrepancies
- Splenic and hepatic sequestration
Sickle Cell Disease often interferes with daily living activities: patients may miss work or school, have to be hospitalized for acute pain crisis or other complications, and can become depressed, anxious, and lonely.
Sickle Cell Diseases are common for people with ancestry from areas of the world where Malaria is prevalent such as South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Europe. The sickle cell trait helped to protect people from Malaria’s effects. Both parents must carry the Sickle Cell gene in order for their child to inherit the disease. Any of their children would have a 1 in 4 chance of developing SCD.
Treatment can include a medication that is also used for certain cancers called Hydroxyurea, which helps to prevent red blood cells from becoming distorted. Blood transfusions are also effective but must be limited due to the potential for iron overload. Occasionally a bone marrow transplant is performed. A person’s life expectancy may be shortened by this disease.
June 19th is World Sickle Cell Day – a day of raising awareness that is recognized by the United Nations.
As always, Abundant Home Health Care is here to support you and your loved ones. If you are in need of home care assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.