What You Need to Know

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) – People with sickle cell disease are at increased risk for serious complications from COVID-19, according to an expert.

“Many patients experience a pain attack, also known as a vaso-occlusive crisis, at the start of COVID-19 infection before respiratory symptoms develop,” said Dr. Jennie Hart, clinical director. of pediatric hematology / oncology at the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital in Sinai in Baltimore.

COVID-19 can cause severe inflammation and lung damage. And that can have a bigger impact on people with sickle cell anemia, a group of inherited red blood cell disorders, said Hart.

People with the condition, which most commonly affects black people, have deformed red blood cells that can block and obstruct blood flow, inhibiting oxygen supply, damaging blood vessels, and causing inflammation.

Certain conditions – including respiratory infections such as COVID-19 – increase the formation of sickle cells, as lung infections cause lower oxygen levels and worsen inflammation.

“This increase in sickle cell red blood cells makes patients with sickle cell disease and COVID-19 infection particularly vulnerable to the development of acute chest syndrome, a rapid and fatal lung injury,” Hart said in a statement.

People with sickle cell disease should stay home unless travel is essential, according to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

“Patients who can work from home are strongly encouraged to do so. Your doctor can provide a letter to your employer,” said Hart. Social distancing is a must, she added.

If you have sickle cell anemia, call your doctor immediately if you develop fever or chest pain, have trouble breathing, or have a pain attack, she advised.

Take all of your medications as prescribed, especially if you are taking hydroxyurea, which reduces certain complications of sickle cell anemia, she added.

Stay well hydrated, wash your hands often, and avoid close contact with people who show symptoms of respiratory infection, said Hart.

HealthDay WebMD News


SOURCE: LifeBridge Health, press release, July 7, 2020

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