Sickle Cell

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 26 September 2016

Sickle Cell

SCD also known as sickle cell disease affects the blood and cardiovascular system. There are six different types of SCD. The following discussion will include cause, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. The proper education on this disease will give patients and the public a better knowledge of the common unfamiliarity with SCD. The cardiovascular system consists of the heart, arteries, capillaries, veins, and blood. The organs in the cardiovascular system are a vital part of the human body that helps maintain homeostasis.

The function of the cardiovascular system is to supply the body with O2, nutrients to the tissues of the body and the removal of waste (Shier, Butler, & Lewis, 2012, p. 341, 342). The blood is a system that is incorporated in the cardiovascular system. Blood is a vital part of the cardiovascular system. The blood consists of RBCs, WBCs, plasma, and platelets. The blood contributes to every organ throughout the human body. The function of the blood is to transport O2, CO2, wastes, nutrients, hormones, lipids, and vitamins. The blood is also responsible for the protection of the body when there are invaders, or any kind of blood loss.

Another function of the blood is to regulate the bodies’ temperature, fluid and pH balance (Shier, et al. , 2012, p. 319). The cardiovascular system has a main component to make the system work. The heart is essential for the functioning of the cardiovascular system. The basic function of the heart is to pump the blood throughout the body. There are two different circuits of blood flow, the pulmonary circuit and the systemic circuit. The pulmonary circuit within the heart pumps the deoxygenated blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs.

In the lungs, the deoxygenated blood is enriched with O2, releases out the waste CO2 and returns to the left side of the heart. In systemic circuit, the heart pumps the O2 rich blood with the nutrients from the left side of the heart to the tissues of the body with the exception the heart and lungs. As the O2 rich blood is being disturbed to the body by blood vessels, it is dropping the O2 to the tissues of the body, picking up the CO2 and wastes and bringing the now deoxygenated blood back up the right side of the heart to be enriched with O2 again by the lungs (Shier, et al. , 2012, p. 41). The cardiovascular organs work together like a well oiled machine.

The heart, blood vessels, arteries, arterioles, capillaries, veins, and blood must work together to maintain the homeostasis of the body. Along with these organs, they have to be able to work with other organs that are not a part of their system, but are essential to the homeostasis of the body. The lungs are important to the cardiovascular system. The lungs work with the heart allowing with the blood to be brought through the lungs, allowing CO2 to be released and O2 to be replaced back into the blood (Shier, et al. 2012, p. 341). The blood vessels, arterioles, capillaries and veins act as a highway for the body. This is where the blood can be transported through the body and replenishes the body with O2. Then it is taken back to the heart, to the lungs to release the CO2 and regain the O2, back to the heart, and then taken away from the heart to replenish the body (“Cardiovascular System,” n. d. para. 5). It is important that the systems work together to maintain the balance of the body. If one system does not function the right way, it will then affect the other systems.

An example would be if the heart was not pumping the blood throughout the body. The body will not receive enough O2 and will cause the lungs to speed up and produce rapid breathing (Shier, et al. , 2012). When diseases are introduced into the body such as SCD, it can affect the cardiovascular system and the respiratory system. This disease can also affect other vital organs. SCD can throw off the body’s homeostasis and this can result in destruction of the body. SCD is caused by an abnormal type of hemoglobin called hemoglobin S. Hemoglobin is a protein inside of RBCs that carries O2.

When RBCs are exposed to low O2 levels, the hemoglobin S causes the RBCs to change their shape. The RBCs shape turns to a crescent or sickle shape instead of a round shape. The sickle shaped cells carry less O2 throughout the body than normal RBCs (“Sickle cell,” n. d. , para. 4). While the disfigured RBCs travel through the body they can get stuck and clog the blood flow causing pain, infection, acute chest syndrome and a stroke (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2012, para. 1). There are three main types of SCD that can be genetically passed from mother to fetus.

There are also three more types of SCD that are very rare to have and are rarely seen in people. HbSS is SCD where two sickle genes, one from each parent, are inherited. This is known as sickle cell anemia and is usually the most severe form. HbSC is where a person will inherit one sickle cell gene from one parent and abnormal hemoglobin from the other parent. This is a milder form of SCD. HbS beta thalassemia is an inherence of one sickle cell gene from one parent and beta thalassemia, another type of anemia, from another parent. There are two different types of beta thalassemia, 0 and +.

HbS beta 0- thalassemia is usually a severe form of SCD, and the HbS beta +- thalassemia is generally a milder form of SCD (CDC, 2012, para. 4) The number of people living in the United States with SCD is unknown, but the CDC collaborated with National Institutes of Health and seven different states in the U. S. A. The collaborated efforts of the groups have “estimated that SCD affects 90,000 to 100,000 Americans” (CDC, 2012, para. 14). SCD is a genetically developed disease which is present at birth. In order for the fetus to have this disease, both the mother and father need to have passed the sickle cell gene to the fetus (CDC, 2012, para. , 8). This disease cannot be passed by any means other than genetics. Unfortunately, not many people are educated on this disease and treat people that have SCD as thou they have a contagious disease. The signs and symptoms of SCD can occur after the age of 4 months. Hand Foot syndrome is usually the first symptoms of SCD. This is swelling in the hands and feet, and can be accompanied by a fever. This caused by sickle cells being caught in a small blood vessels and blocking blood flow from the hands and feet (CDC, 2012, para. 25).

The signs and symptoms of SCD include attacks of abdominal pain, bone pain, dyspnea, delayed growth, fatigue, fever, paleness, tachycardia, and jaundice (“Sickle cell Anemia,” n. d. , para. 10). Most patients that have SCD can experience painful episodes called crises. Crises are when sickle cells travel through small blood vessels, and get stuck and cause a clog of blood flow (CDC, 2012, para. 27). The crises can last for hours or days at a time. The crises episodes can affect the bones of the back, the bones of the chest and the long bones of the body (“Sickle cell Anemia,” n. . , para. 8, 9). When a patient has SCD, they become anemic because of the abnormal RBCs being broken down in 10 to 20 days and not lasting 4 month in the blood stream. This is problem because the body cannot produce enough RBCs at the rate that they are being diminished. SCD can be both acute and chronic disease (“Sickle Cell Anemia,” n. d. para. 18-23). SCD involves the entire body because of being part of the blood and being able to clot different blood vessel in the body. There can also be other complications that can occur in an individual when they have this disease.

Some complications include and are not limited to acute chest syndrome, splenic sequestration, vision loss, leg ulcers, and strokes (CDC, 2012, para. 36, 40, 43, 46, 48). There are diagnostic tests that can be performed to determine if an individual has the SCD. There is only one diagnostic test that is performed to show if an individual had SCD. This test can be done at birth; this is a simple blood test that is done during a routine newborn screening. This is done by pricking the infant’s heels to gather blood from and collect for the tests results (“Genetics Home Reference, 2012, para. ). There are laboratory tests that can be done to show if an individual has SCD. A test that can be done is a blood draw from an adult to gather a CBC. The CBC counts the RBCs, WBCs, and gathers the total amount of hemoglobin in the blood.

This is done by inserting a needle in a vein to gather blood for a diagnosis. There can be an Hb solubility test and sodium metabisulfite test done to screen for sickle cell anemia. Hemoglobinopathy is a test done to measures the type and relative amounts of hemoglobin present in the red blood cells. A DNA analysis can be done on an individual. This test is used to investigate alterations and mutations in the genes that produce hemoglobin components” (American Association for Clinical Chemistry, 2012, para. 7). There can also be a blood smear which can see if the RBCs, WBCs, and platelets are normal in appearance and number. The last test that can be done is an iron study. The iron study is a blood sample that is taken from a vein in the arm. This can show the iron levels in the body (American Association for Clinical Chemistry, 2012, para. 12) There are clinical procedures that can be performed to determine if SCD is present in an individual.

Cordocentesis is a prenatal test, where a sample of the baby’s blood is removed from the umbilical cord. Amniocentesis is a procedure where amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus for testing. Hemoglobin test measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood of an individual. Another test is genetic testing where they examine the DNA to reveal any trace of SCD (Mayo Clinc, 2012) Medication can be used to help treat SCD. Theses medication cannot get rid of SCD but they can help lessen the pain and lessen the risk of having infections.

Antibiotics help prevent infection. Children are given the antibiotics to help prevent infections such as pneumonia. An individual with SCD can use pain relievers. Pain reliever medications are used to relive pain during a sickle crisis that can leave an indivual in excruciating pain. The pain reliever can be purchased over the counter or the physician can write them a script. Hydroxyurea is another medication that can be used for SCD. Hydroxyurea helps reduce the frequency of the sickle crises, and may reduce the need for blood transfusions (Mayo Clinc, 2012).

There is no cure for most people with SCD. For some people, there can be a bone marrow transplant or a stem cell transplant that can cure sickle cell anemia. Unfortunately, most patients cannot receive this treatment. For patients that cannot receive the treatment listed above, there are alternative treatments that can relieve pain and help prevent problems associated with SCD. Some treatments that an invidial can have to help with SCD are kidney dialysis, kidney transplant, gallbladder removal, hip replacement, and surgery for eye problems.

The treatments listed above are for patients that have a severe case of SCD and need to have alternate procedures done (“Sickle Cell Anemia,” n. d. para. 18, 19, 20, 21). There can be long term effects when having SCD. Some of the long term affects can lead to death. Other long term effects can be blindness, disease of many of the body systems, drug narcotic abuse, loss of function of spleen, tissue death in the kidney, there are many more long term affects that can happen when having SCD (“Sickle Cell Anemia,” n. d. ).

Sickle cell disease is a serious and one of the misunderstood diseases out in the public eye. There should be more education on this disease to show patient and the public what the disease consist of, and what the treatments can be. Fortunately, there are treatments and cures that can help with sickle cell disease, but most patients cannot afford the cures and instead have to do treatment to lessen the pain. Sickle cell disease should be looked at with a kind heart because individuals that have SCD have to endure an extreme amount pain and do not need judgment from others for their uneducated knowledge.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 26 September 2016

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