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Controversies in Neurology
November 2005

Sickle Cell TraitInnocent Until Proven Guilty

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Neurology, Division of Pediatric Neurology, Riley Hospital, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.


E. S.RoachMD

Arch Neurol. 2005;62(11):1781-1782. doi:10.1001/archneur.62.11.1781

There are a lot of things we know for a fact that simply aren't so.

Kevin J. McGowan

Sickle cell disease is a well-recognized cause of stroke. About 8% of individuals with sickle cell disease have a symptomatic stroke by age 14 years,1 and the stroke risk increases to over 20% when asymptomatic vascular lesions detected by magnetic resonance imaging are included.2 There is also good evidence that individuals who are heterozygous for the sickle hemoglobin gene (sickle cell trait [SCT]) have an increased risk of splenic infarction and heat stroke in situations that promote oxygen desaturation, such as high altitude or prolonged strenuous activity.36 But is SCT also a risk factor for stroke, and if so, is it a major risk?