Sickle Cell: Why Blacks Need To Be More Aware

Sickle cell disease is an inherited red blood cell disorder affecting people of all races, not just African Americans.

Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has sickle cell disease, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.” The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells.

It can also cause pain.

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Pain is the most common complication of SCD. When sickle cells travel through small blood vessels, they can get stuck and prevent blood flow and oxygen from reaching vital organs. This causes pain that can start suddenly, be mild to severe, and can last for any length of time.