Sickle Cell Crisis (cont.)
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Sickle Cell Disease Causes
Sickle cell disease results from mutation, or change, of certain types of hemoglobin chains in red blood cells (the beta hemoglobin chains).
The changes in the building of normal hemoglobin result in the abnormal hemoglobin of sickle cell disease. These mutated molecules do not have the smooth motion needed for oxygenation and deoxygenation. When the oxygen concentration in the blood is reduced, the red blood cell assumes the characteristic sickle shape. This causes the red blood cell to be stiff and rigid, and stops the smooth passage of the red blood cells through the narrow blood vessels.
It does not take much imagination to see sharp-end "sickled" red cells stacking up in narrow blood vessels known as capillaries. When this happens, red blood cells are not able to carry oxygen to tissues, and tissue cell injury or death occurs. Someone with sickle cell disease would be experiencing pain with this process-the sickle cell crisis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/8/2015
John R Krimm, DO, FAAEM
Thomas Rebbecchi, MD, FAAEM
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