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patient education

Battling Bent Blood Cells: Progress in Sickle Cell Disease

key information

source: National Institutes of Health

year: 2020


With every beat of your heart, blood carries oxygen from your lungs throughout your body. This life-sustaining process happens automatically, whether you’re awake or asleep.

But for people with sickle cell disease, it often goes awry. People with this disease have an abnormal type of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells.

Normally, red blood cells are flexible and shaped like a disc. But the hemoglobin in people with sickle cell disease causes abnormally shaped red blood cells. Most commonly, they’re a crescent (or sickle) shape.

These inflexible, bent cells can stick to the blood vessel walls. The resulting clumps slow or stop the flow of blood. This may lead to pain and organ damage.


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