Sickle Cell Disease

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Only a few decades ago, people with SCD typically didn't live beyond young adulthood. But thanks to advances in treatment, many who have access to appropriate care are now able to successfully manage the disease and live better, longer, more productive lives, with some people reaching their 60s and 70s.

However, SCD also cuts many lives short; the average life expectancy of U.S. sufferers is no more than about 50 years old.

The keys to optimal SCD management are health maintenance and the prevention of complications. For this reason, people with SCD should be seen regularly by a healthcare provider who is familiar with the disease's risks, symptoms, and related medical issues.

Early diagnosis and intervention, the education and involvement of loved ones and caregivers, lifelong monitoring, and specialized care are all critical for successfully managing SCD. Regular visits with an experienced specialist mean that potentially serious complications can be spotted early and treatment can begin promptly.

As with people suffering from any chronic health condition, SCD patients are advised to do what they can to keep their bodies strong and healthy, such as eating well, getting enough rest, and keeping up with recommended checkups and other health-maintenance activities.

It's also important that those close to SCD patients understand the illness and that patients receive specialized psychosocial support when they struggle with the many challenges associated with it.

Last reviewed on 1/28/10

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