Treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disease that affects your red blood cells. In this disease, an abnormal protein molecule called hemoglobin-S changes your disc-shaped flexible red blood cells into rigid sickle-shaped cells. Sickle cells can block blood flow and can cause pain and tissue damage. And sickle cells don't last as long as normal red blood cells. As a result, your blood has less red blood cells than normal. This condition is called anemia. Treatment options for sickle cell anemia may include medicines or procedures to help relieve symptoms, or in certain cases, a hematopoietic stem cell transplant to potentially cure the disease. Antibiotics and vaccine shots for diseases can help prevent infections. Your healthcare provider may advise you to take pain relievers for severe or chronic pain. One of the most common medicines for long-term treatment of sickle cell anemia is called Hydroxyurea. It helps reduce pain by preventing damage to your red blood cells. It also reduces the risk of long-term complications. Other prescribed medicines that help prevent complications and improve long-term outcomes include Crizanlizumab, Voxelotor, and L-Glutamine. If you have an episode of very severe pain, you may have a procedure called a blood transfusion. This replaces the sickle cells with healthy red blood cells. For young patients who have or are at risk for complications from sickle cell anemia, a hematopoietic stem cell transplant may be advised. It can cure some people who have this disease. Before the transplant, you may be given chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy, or both. This will destroy the abnormal blood-forming stem cells in your bone marrow. Then you will receive healthy stem cells from either the bone marrow or blood of a donor. The donor is often a family member whose tissue type closely matches yours. The healthy blood-forming stem cells from the donor will travel through your blood to your bone marrow where they will make normal red blood cells instead of sickle cells. To find out more about treatments for sickle cell anemia, talk to your healthcare provider.