Sickle cell disease (SCD), a type of inherited anemia (shortage of healthy red blood cells), is characterized by abnormally shaped red blood cells. These cells have decreased flexibility, meaning they easily break or get stuck in blood vessels. This can result in a number of life-long complications to many organs in the body, including the lungs.
Symptoms of PH include shortness of breath with activity, increased fatigue, swelling of the ankles, legs or abdomen, chest discomfort, and lightheadedness or fainting. Because the symptoms of PH can be nonspecific and mild initially, it is very important for someone with SCD to share any of these symptoms with their doctor. Six to 11% of adults with SCD develop PH and those who suffer from PH are at a higher risk of death than SCD patients without PH. Therefore, a doctor may want to perform screening tests to make sure someone with SCD does not have PH, even if they do not have symptoms.
Download the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA)’s free patient brochure to learn more about PH risks and treatment options.