Facts About Sickle Cell Anemia

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Sickle cell disease refers to the red blood cells manufactured by the body in the form of crescent-shaped sickles caused by abnormal hemoglobin. Sickle cell anemia is the most common form of the sickle cell disease.  Sickle cells block the blood flow causing organ damage and infection.

Fact 1. Symptoms of sickle cell anemia include: fatigue, shortness of  breath, dizziness, headaches, and coldness in the hands and feet. Other manifestations of sickle cell anemia are: thin, pale mucous membranes and jaundice.

Fact 2.   Sickle cell anemia can be detected by a blood test. In the United States, the sickle cell anemia blood test is mandatory at birth.

Fact 3.   An estimated 70,000 Americans suffer from sickle cell anemia with another 2 million Americans having the sickle cell trait which means they carry a gene for the disease with the potential of  passing it on to their children.

Fact 4.  Sickle cell disease is common amongst those with an ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa, Spanish-speaking regions in the Western Hemisphere, Saudi Arabia, India, and Mediterranean countries.

Fact 5.  In West and Central Africa, 25 percent of the people have the sickle cell trait. There are 1-2 percent of the babies born having a form of the disease. The slave trade was one form of how the disease was transmitted from Africa to the Americas. Another route was from Africa to Southern Europe.

Fact 6. Although studies indicate over 3,000,000 children are born every year with sickle cell disease, the figure is much higher due to the unavailability of statistics in many of the Third World countries.

Fact 7.  The actions of sickle cell anemia in sticking to blood vessels and blocking blood supplies is being used  in the study of curing tumors. The actions of the sickle cell in blocking tumor blood supplies and  ultimately killing the tumor cells is the basis of the study.

Fact 8.  Sickle cell anemia can be tested using a blood test called hemoglobin electrophoresis. For those not suffering from this disease, the next best alternative is to help sickle cell patients who require frequent blood transfusions.

Fact 9. The death of a college football player with sickle cell traits prompted the NCAA policy in 2010 of mandating Division 1 players to undergo a sickle cell solubility test as part of their routine physical examinations.

Fact 10. In India, 10.55 of the tribal population in the state of Maharashtra suffer from sickle cell disease. The current plans by the Sickle Cell Disease International Organization (SCDIO)  is to make India SCD free.

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