What is sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell anemia is a rare, inherited genetic blood disorder that affects the shape of the bodies red blood cell.
Sickled red blood cells are stiff and vary from the pliable round donut shaped discs that are seen in a healthy red blood cell.
It is difficult for sickled cells to pass through narrow blood vessels without causing blockage. Blockages can happen in any part of the body where blood flows but is most commonly monitored in the limbs, chest, and brain.
The blockage of blood vessels makes it difficult for blood to flow and oxygen to be carried to necessary parts of the body. The result of this blockage is often termed 'pain crises'.
Normal red blood cells make up about half of your body and live in the body for about 120 days. Sickled red blood cells have a shorter span of about 10 to 20 days, causing the body to constantly work to replenishing old cells with new cells.
The Process of red blood cells breaking down is called Hemolysis.
Due to lower hemoglobin protein often found in sickle cell patients this makes it difficult to effectively replenish red blood cells. This results in individuals diagnosed with the condition becoming anemic and requiring frequent blood transfusion procedures in order to replenish their healthy blood supply and maintain a seemingly regular lifestyle.
Sickle Cell 101
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