Aging in Sickle Cell Disease: Co-morbidities and New Issues in Management

Hemoglobin. 2015;39(4):221-4. doi: 10.3109/03630269.2015.1040493. Epub 2015 Jul 16.


Availability of hydroxyurea (HU) coupled with early therapeutic interventions has increased the life expectancy of patients with sickle cell disease. Hence, the sickle cell community needs to be aware of common diseases of aging that survivors are predisposed to. We chose to investigate the sickle cell disease-related complications as well as non sickle cell disease-related medical problems of aging in 45 sickle cell patients over the age of 40 years. The most frequent chronic complications of sickle cell disease were elevated tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity on echocardiogram, chronic renal disease, iron overload and leg ulcers. Medical co-morbidities in this patient group included hypertension, diabetes mellitus (DM), hypercholesterolemia and symptomatic coronary artery disease (CAD). In our cohort, only 38.0% had a primary care doctor. Only 11.0% over age 50 had a screening colonoscopy, and of the women, 42.0% had a screening mammography. Medical co-morbidities and lack of health maintenance in older sickle cell patients are likely to impact overall health and mortality. Aging patients with sickle cell disease may benefit from a primary medical home for age appropriate comprehensive health care.

Keywords: Aging; hemoglobinopathies; sickle cell disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / blood
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Hematologic Tests
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / etiology