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patient education

Treating sickle cell disease: Is hydroxyurea right for you?

key information

source: The Pacific Sickle Cell Regional Collaborative

year: 2016


Sickle cell disease changes the shape and texture of hemoglobin, which is a protein in red blood cells. People with sickle cell disease have hemoglobin that makes red blood cells a different shape.

The banana-shape of sickle cells block blood flow, which can cause:

– Pain

– Damage to organs, muscles, and tissues

– Sticky blood and damage to blood vessels due to:

Too many platelets (cells that help us stop bleeding when we get hurt),

Too many white blood cells (cells that protect us against infections).

Hydroxyurea (HU) is a medicine that treats sickle cell disease. It can’t cure you of sickle cell disease, but it can help you feel better if you take it every day and can help you stay healthy as you grow older.

Research shows people who take Hydroxyurea:

– Live longer and have less pain

– Need fewer blood transfusions and hospital stays

– Have fewer cases of acute chest syndrome

– Have less damage to their brain, lungs, kidneys, and spleen

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