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You are here : AllRefer.com > Health > Diseases & Conditions > Sickle cell anemia

Sickle cell anemia

Alternate Names : Anemia - sickle cell, Hemoglobin SS disease (Hb SS), Sickle cell disease


Definition

Sickle cell anemia is a disease passed down through families in which red blood cells form an abnormal crescent shape. (Red blood cells are normally shaped like a disc.)

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Hemoglobin is a protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen. Sickle cell anemia is caused by an abnormal type of hemoglobin called hemoglobin S. Hemoglobin S distorts the shape of red blood cells, especially when exposed to low oxygen levels.

The distorted red blood cells are shaped like crescents or sickles. These fragile, sickle-shaped cells deliver less oxygen to the body's tissues. They can also clog more easily in small blood vessels, and break into pieces that disrupt healthy blood flow.

Sickle cell anemia is inherited from both parents. Sickle cell disease is much more common in people of African and Mediterranean descent. It is also seen in people from South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

Someone who inherits the hemoglobin S gene from one parent and normal hemoglobin (A) from the other parent will have sickle cell trait. People with sickle cell trait do not have the symptoms of true sickle cell anemia.

Pictures & Images

Red blood cells, sickle cell
Red blood cells, sickle cell

Red blood cells, normal
Red blood cells, normal

Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells
Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells

Red blood cells, sickle cells
Red blood cells, sickle cells

Red blood cells, sickle and pappenheimer
Red blood cells, sickle and pappenheimer

Formed elements of blood
Formed elements of blood

Blood cells
Blood cells

     
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Review Date : 1/31/2010
Reviewed By : Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.



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