Sickle Cell SEM

Sickle cell anemia is caused by an abnormal type of hemoglobin called hemoglobin S. Hemoglobin is a protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen.

  • Hemoglobin S changes the shape of red blood cells. The red blood cells become shaped like crescents or sickles.
  • The fragile, sickle-shaped cells deliver less oxygen to the body’s tissues.
  • They can also get stuck more easily in small blood vessels, as well as break into pieces that can interrupt healthy blood flow. These problems decrease the amount of oxygen flowing to body tissues even more.

Sickle cell anemia is inherited from both parents. If you inherit the sickle cell gene from only one parent, you will have sickle cell trait. People with sickle cell trait do not have the symptoms of sickle cell anemia.

Sickle cell disease is much more common in people of African and Mediterranean descent. It is also seen in people from South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. (from pub med health -link)


Image from medical school tumblr (link) and britannica (link)

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