Expert says children with Sickle Cell Disease risk stroke

A General Medical Practitioner with a Private Hospital in Gwagwalada, Dr Femi Onasanya, says children with Sickle Disease are at increased risk for stroke, the risk is highest between the ages of two and 16.

Onasanya said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja to commemorate Sickle cell awareness Day.

The doctor explained that improperly managed Sickle Cell patients could also be prone to stroke.

He said children with Sickle Disease are at increased risk for stroke, the risk is highest between the ages of two and 16.

According to him, Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the most common inherited disorder of hemoglobin worldwide and rampant in Africa.

“Sickle cell disease or sickle cell anaemia is an inherited form of anaemia in which red blood cells are not able to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body.

”In a normal condition, red blood cells are flexible and round. They move easily in the blood vessels. But in sickle cell disease or anaemia, the red blood cells become rigid, sticky and become like sickle shape or crescent moon.

“As a result these irregularly shaped cells get stuck in small blood vessels, which slow the flow of blood or block blood flow and reduce oxygen to reach the parts of the body,” Onasanya said.

He said every pregnancy carries a 25 per cent risk when both partners carry a sickle cell gene.

Onasanya said the High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is the standard tests for diagnosing Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), saying the test separates different forms of proteins in a column and can detect mutant forms of hemoglobin.

According to him, the treatment choices for sickle cell anemia are the drug hydroxyurea and chronic red blood cell transfusions.

“The treatments may lessen the complications of sickle cell disease, but they do not cure the disease.

“Bone Marrow Transplant is the only cure for sickle cell anemia treatment at this time. Transplants from matched related donors offer about an 85 per cent chance of cure.

“All sickle cell anaemia patients do not need a bone marrow transplant. However, the younger the patient, the higher the chances of cure after a bone marrow transplant.

“With age as organ damage increases, chances of a successful transplant decrease,” he said.

The physician said indications for a transplant were frequent Pain, stroke and acute chest syndrome, which means the patient suffers from pneumonia, frequent chest infections.

NAN reports that World Sickle Cell Day was organised by the UN as General Assembly in 2008 to raise the awareness about the sickle cell disease and the pain that people go through in life.

It was first celebrated on June 19, 2009, Nowadays, sickle cell disease has become a common genetic disease that spread all around the world.

Therefore, it is necessary to cure through the fast awareness campaign, curable activities, early diagnosis, and management. (NAN)

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