Sickle cell disease is a condition that affects the red blood cells. It can lead to other complications, such as stroke.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a condition where a person’s red blood cells are misshapen or “sickle-shaped.” According to the
A stroke occurs when there is a blockage to the brain’s blood supply, such as blood clotting in the blood vessels or bleeding around the brain. Both situations are more likely to happen to a person with SCD.
This article looks at the cause of stroke in SCD, how doctors diagnose and treat it, and how to reduce the risk.
For a person with SCD, their misshapen red blood cells can
Bleeding is also a complication of SCD. According to a
There are two main types of sickle cell stroke:
Ischemic stroke: This type of stroke happens when misshapen red blood cells block a person’s blood vessels. According to a
Intracranial hemorrhage: This type of stroke is caused by bleeding in or around a person’s brain. Adults aged
According to the
They are also a risk factor for future strokes.
Ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke share similar symptoms, but the time of onset sometimes differs.
Symptoms of ischemic stroke
The symptoms of ischemic stroke tend to appear suddenly. They
- numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side of the body
- difficulty speaking
- severe headaches with no known cause
- dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination
- trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
- difficulty walking
There may be additional symptoms in women, including:
- pain in the legs or arms
- heart palpitations
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
Symptoms of intracranial hemorrhage
The symptoms of
- increasing headache
- drowsiness and progressive loss of consciousness
- unequal pupil size
- slurred speech
- loss of movement or paralysis on one side of the body
If doctors suspect a stroke, they will do an initial assessment to look for typical symptoms. This can include:
- testing a person’s movement, sensation, speech, vision, and balance
- taking a person’s pulse to check for an irregular heartbeat
- assessing a person’s blood pressure
A person with a suspected stroke should have a brain scan within an hour of arriving at the hospital. Doctors may use the following methods to determine whether a person is having an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke: a computerized tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
The following techniques may help determine the location, type, and cause of stroke and to rule out other conditions:
- electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG)
transcranial Doppler ultrasound
- cerebral angiography
If doctors diagnose stroke in a person with SCD, they will recommend an urgent blood transfusion.
If the stroke is ischemic, a person may also receive
A person experiencing an ischemic stroke may also receive blood-thinning medication, such as aspirin or warfarin.
To treat hemorrhagic stroke resulting from a ruptured aneurysm, a person may have an open craniotomy. In this procedure, a surgeon opens a portion of the skull and uses a metal clip to stop blood loss from the aneurysm.
A person may receive additional medication to help with conditions that can lead to a stroke, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
According to a
Although women with SCD
- eating a balanced diet
- staying active
- cutting down on alcohol
- managing underlying conditions, such as
According to the
- fever above 101°F
- breathing difficulties
- chest pain
- sudden swelling in the belly area
- sudden weakness or loss of movement or sensation
- a painful erection of the penis lasting more than 4 hours
A person should contact a doctor if they experience pain anywhere in the body that will not go away with treatment or sudden vision problems.
A person with SCD has an increased risk of stroke. Stroke can happen when sickle-shaped red blood cells clog an artery or when there is bleeding in or around the brain.
Doctors can identify a stroke using an MRI or CT scan. They may use surgical procedures or medication to treat the stroke.
A person with SCD can reduce their risk of stroke by having regular blood transfusions and transcranial Doppler screenings. Taking prescribed medications and adopting healthy lifestyle habits may also help prevent stroke.