Describe the cause of the disease sickle cell anemia That is, describe what actually occurs in the body which leads to the symptoms one would exhibit

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ako6777 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sickle cell anemia is a disease passed down from parent to child.  That is to say it is a genetic condition.  Sickle cell anemia is a disease of the red blood cells.  Red blood cells are typically disc shaped and look like a doughnut without the hole in the middle.  This shape allows them to move through the arteries easily.  Red blood cells contain the bodies hemoglobin which transports the bodies oxygen.

In sickle cell anemia, red blood cells are sickle shaped due to abnormal hemoglobin.  The sickle shape prevents the cells from moving smoothly through the arteries.  The cells also tend to be sticky and this causes them to clump together.  When the cell clump together, they can form clots that block the flow of blood throughout the body.  Blocked vessels can cause pain, infections, and organ damage.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The disease is caused by inherited abnormal hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an oxygen carrying protein that is within the red blood cells. Because this hemoglobin is abnormal it causes the cell shape to become distorted, or sickled. Because they have this sickled shape they are very fragile and susceptible to rupture. As they rupture the number of red blood cells decreases and this causes anemia. In addition, the abnormal shape of the cells can cause blocking of the blood vessels and lead to other health issues.

It is an inherited disease and it is an autosomal recessive condition. Autosomal means that the gene is not linked to a sex chromosome. A child born with sickle cell inherits 1 gene from each parent.