Several factors, including general overall health as well as liver, kidney, and heart function, affect the prognosis of sickle cell anemia. In addition, the patient's age is a factor. Many children do not show symptoms before the age of four months. Early diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of the patient also contribute to how well the patient with sickle cell anemia does.
This genetic disease causes red blood cells to form in a crescent shape instead of their normal disc shape. When the blood cells have low oxygen levels, such as during an asthma attack or bout of pneumonia, sickle cell production increases. When sickle cells form, the patient is said to be in crisis. In addition to organ and tissue damage, a crisis causes the patient significant pain that can last for hours or days.
The disease is most common among blacks and Mediterranean populations. The gene must be passed down from each parent for a child to inherit the disease. If only one parent passes the gene to a child, the child will have sickle cell traits but will not experience symptoms.
Typical life expectancy for someone with sickle cell anemia is reduced due to the many complications it presents. While some patients do not live beyond early childhood, with proper medical care and lifestyle changes, many patients can live into their fourth decade and beyond. Factors that affect the prognosis of sickle cell anemia play a part in an individual's life expectancy.
The most common factors affecting the prognosis of sickle cell anemia include bacterial infection, stroke, and organ failure. Each time a crisis happens, organ and tissue damage occurs. Bacterial infections such as pneumonia can cause death. Strokes or bleeding into the brain are also common causes of death for sickle cell anemia patients. Organ failure, such as liver or kidney damage, creates a health crisis for the sickle cell anemia patient.
Sickle cells last about 20 days, while normal red blood cells last for 120 days. The aberrant cells cause severe anemia. Blood transfusions can help increase the prognosis for sickle cell anemia by preventing chronic red cell anemia.
The patient can also control factors that will affect the prognosis of sickle cell anemia. Drinking lots of fluids, getting plenty of rest, and managing infections may have a positive impact on the prognosis of the disease. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular monitoring by medical professionals, should also improve the prognosis of sickle cell anemia.