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Controversies in Neurology
November 2005

Sickle Cell Trait Is a Risk Factor for Early Stroke

Arch Neurol. 2005;62(11):1778-1779. doi:10.1001/archneur.62.11.1778

Sickle cell anemia is a well-known risk factor for stroke. In conditions of mild hypoxemia, red blood cells sickle and sludge in arteries and veins, leading to thrombosis and infarction at a young age. Children with sickle cell anemia have approximately 285 strokes per 100 000 children per year.1 Twenty-two percent of people with sickle cell disease have ischemic lesions on cerebral magnetic resonance imaging.2 Although red blood cells that are heterozygous for sickle cell trait (SCT) are more resistant to sickling than cells that are homozygous for SCT, they too can sickle under conditions attainable in daily life, and they may also lead to infarction.

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