Sickle Cell Disease
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Commemorating a webinar ‘National Sickle Cell Conclave’ to mark the ‘World Sickle Cell Day’, organised by FICCI, jointly with Ministry of Tribal Affairs and others, the Minister has emphasised on the need to create more awareness about Sickle Cell disease.
What is ‘Sickle Cell Disease’?
- Sickle cell disease is a group of disorders that affects haemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body.
- People with this disorder have a typical haemoglobin molecules called haemoglobin S, which can distort red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent shape.
- Signs and symptoms of sickle cell disease usually begin in early childhood. Characteristic features of this disorder include a low number of red blood cells (anaemia), repeated infections, and periodic episodes of pain. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person. Some people have mild symptoms, while others are frequently hospitalised for more serious complications.
What happens in a ‘Sickle Cell disease’?
- The signs and symptoms of sickle cell disease are caused by the sickling of red blood cells. When red blood cells sickle, they break down prematurely, which can lead to anaemia.
- Anaemia can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children.
- The rapid breakdown of red blood cells may also cause yellowing of the eyes and skin, which are signs of jaundice.
- Painful episodes can occur when sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in small blood vessels. These episodes deprive tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to organ damage, especially in the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and brain.
- A particularly serious complication of sickle cell disease is high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). Pulmonary hypertension occurs in about one-third of adults with sickle cell disease and can lead to heart failure.