Sickle cell anemia is a blood hereditary disorder which is characterized by some periodic pains as well as constant anemia. The main issue that causes this disorder involves a transformation in blood protein called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin forms part of the red blood cells and its main purpose is to transport or carry oxygen. This protein component carries oxygen from the lungs of a person to the other body parts as well as tissues. On addition, it also transports carbon dioxide to the lungs where it s exhaled out of the body to the atmosphere. People suffering from sickle cell anemia usually have defective hemoglobin which is not effective in transporting oxygen (Tapper, 1999). Some of the defective hemoglobin cluster forming rod like long structures after giving up their oxygen. These structures usually make the red blood cells to be stiffened and take the shape of a sickle.
Sickle cell anemia in African American community
Blood sickle cell anemia is a big health problem among the African American population. Other communities which are affected by this complication include Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Asian Indian ancestry. In the United States every one child out of four hundred births is affected by sickle anemia. This is the commonest form of sickle cell disorders that affect the Africa American population and the overall communities of American since other American population are also affected (Reyes, 2005). For instance, sickle cell anemia is also becoming increasingly common among the South Americans, Central American and the Latino Americans of Caribbean population. The disease makes the red blood cells to function abnormally and as a result chronic anemia, blood clots, and painful events result which may later cause serious complications to other related organs as well as tissues. Other blood cells disorders which are in the same group with sickle cell anemia include sickle beta thalassemia syndrome, Mediterranean disease and hemoglobinopathies. All these disorders develops sickle cell hemoglobin which later forces the red blood cell to assume a sickle cell shape.
Sickle cell disorders are as a result of genetic change in red blood cell hemoglobin portion. Some of the red blood cells in a person with sickle cell are sickle shaped whereas red blood cells in a healthy individual are usually flexible and oval in shape. The term sickle cell was reached at after examining the sickle red blood cells that transforms into a rod like sickle shape. Healthy blood cells have a longer life span when compared to sickle cells. Sickle cells are generally sticky and less flexible. The nature of the sickle cells makes them susceptible to being held up the blood arteries and veins thus preventing proper flow of the blood. Main issue normally arises when blood is not effectively being transported to other body parts because of the blockage of the blood vessels by the sickle shaped cells.
Compromised transportation of oxygen to the related body organs usually leads to periodic pains. This condition is very complex because shortage in the supply of oxygen to the other body organs may led to their destruction. People who carry the sickle cell gene are normally associated with the sickle cell trait. The sickle cell trait does not mainly cause health issues because this trait is somehow beneficial to its carriers (Reyes, 2005). For instance, the trait is known to protect the person from malaria, a disease which is obtained when one is bitten by a mosquito. Estimations which were carried out in the United States indicated that in twelve African Americans one of them carries the sickle cell trait.
The best way of understanding sickle cell anemia is by getting to know the components of hemoglobin molecule. Hemoglobin is made up of three components which include betalike globin, alpha like globin and heme. Sickle cells results because of genetic transformation in the bête globin a constituent of the hemoglobin. Change usually occurs in the genetic alignment of chromosome number eleven. A minor change in one DNA nucleotide often, lead to insertion of different amino acids in the beta globin resulting to a different element which generally alters the properties of the red blood cell hemoglobin. The altered beta globin is what is referred to as sickle cell gene. On the contrary the normal or health red blood cell gene is what is called the regular gene. Many people have a pair of regular red blood cell gene which usually produces a health beta globin that leads to normal red blood cells.
People who have the sickle cell trait usually have one copy of the sickle gene and another copy of regular red blood cell gene instead of one pair of normal red blood cell gene. For these reasons this people normally end up producing equally numbers of sickle cells and healthy red blood cells. This is the reason why such people do not experience measurable health problems because of the sickle cell trait that they carry. On the contrary, people with sickle cell anemia usually carry a pair of sickle cell genes. Genetics plays a crucial role in the probability of a parent getting a health child or one with the sickle cell trait and even one with sickle cell anemia (Tapper, 1999). Oxygen is very essential for proper functioning of cells and living though oxygen which is released by sickle cells normally alter normal red blood cells into sickle cells. Also low oxygen concentration, dehydration and cold temperatures can trigger this change. Further research also indicates that about 11% of all sickle cell anemia individuals get stroke at about age twenty. This is one of the main diseases that affect African American population.