Culture and Disease

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Date Submitted: 11/20/2012 03:19 PM

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Cultural and Disease Paper

Maureen Regan


October 24, 2012

Linda Ingalls

Cultural and Disease Paper

Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is the most common and severe form of sickle cell diseases. It is caused by a genetic mutation that results in an abnormal type of hemoglobin called hemoglobin S. Hemoglobin is found inside red blood cells. It helps them carry oxygen to all parts of the human body. Hemoglobin S alters the red blood cells--manipulating them, as it were, into a crescent or sickle shape, making them fragile and hindering their ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body and tissues. As a result of its deformed shape, small blood vessels are clogged and the normal flow of blood is interrupted.

Sickle cell anemia results when the gene is passed on by both parents. If only one parent is a carrier and one sickle cell gene is inherited, the resulting child is then a carrier of the sickle cell trait and, does not suffer from the symptoms of SCA. The child, however, may still transmit the disease to its own offspring, if the second parent is also a carrier and passes on the trait. Sickle cell anemia is characteristically diagnosed within the first two years of life. It causes unpredictable, debilitating episodes of intense pain, increased vulnerability to infection and complications that are often life-threatening.

Vulnerable Population

Sickle cell anemia occurs in primarily in people of African descent, but others who may also be affected can come from Asian Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern decent. According to the World Health Organization (2012) over 300 million people worldwide are carriers of the sickle cell trait. Approximately eight to ten percent of those are African Americans. Within the United States alone, one in 500 African Americans suffers from SCA. Sickle cell anemia appears to have no gender preference or economic preference. The life expectancy for men suffering from the disease is forty-two years; for...