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patient education

COVID-19, Sickle Cell Disease, and a Critical Need

key information

source: Boston Medical Center

year: 2020

authors: Amy Sobota


We are facing a global pandemic as cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, rise around the world. More severe disease, including respiratory failure and the need for mechanical ventilation, is seen in patients with co-existing illnesses. Individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) are a particularly vulnerable group of patients, with a higher risk of severe complications than the general public.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder causing normal red blood cells to deform into stiff, crescent shapes that get stuck in small blood vessels blocking blood flow and oxygen delivery to many parts of the body. This ‘sickling’ is triggered by events such as viral illnesses, cold weather, stress, and low oxygen, among others. If this sickling happens in the lungs, it triggers a cascade of events that causes a severe complication called acute chest syndrome.


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