Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. In SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.” People with SCD can live full lives and enjoy most of the activities that other people do. If you have SCD, it’s important to learn how to stay as healthy as possible. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided the information about this terrible disease. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) produced this important and relevant video.
- It is estimated that SCD affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the United States, mainly African Americans.
- The disease occurs in almost 1 of every 500 Black or African-American births and about 1 out of every 36,000 Hispanic-American births.
- SCD affects millions of people throughout the world and is particularly common among those whose ancestors come from sub-Saharan Africa. Regions in the Western Hemisphere (South America, the Caribbean, and Central America); Saudi Arabia; India; and Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy are affected by Sickle Cell Disease.
Following are some of the most common complications of SCD:
- “Pain Episode” or “Crisis”: Sickle cells don’t move easily through small blood vessels and can get stuck and clog blood flow. This causes pain that can start suddenly, be mild to severe, and last for any length of time.
- Infection: People with SCD, especially infants and children, are more likely to experience harmful infections such as flu, meningitis, and hepatitis.
- Hand-Foot Syndrome: Swelling in the hands and feet, often along with a fever, is caused by the sickle cells getting stuck in the blood vessels. The Sickle Cells then block the blood from flowing freely through the hands and feet.
- Eye Disease: SCD can affect the blood vessels in the eye and lead to long-term damage.
- Acute Chest Syndrome (ACS): Blockage of the flow of blood to the lungs can cause acute chest syndrome. ACS is similar to pneumonia; symptoms include chest pain, coughing, difficulty breathing, and fever. It can be life-threatening and should be treated in a hospital.
- Stroke: Sickle cells can clog blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke. A stroke can result in lifelong disabilities and learning problems.
Sickle Cell is a well known but poorly understood disease. The CDC has prepared a Data and Stat Sheet on Sickle Cell Disease to provide more insight. Jay Harold strongly suggests that you review this information. Jay Harold is always working to improve your Health and Wealth.
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