Cardiomyopathy in Sickle Cell Disease

Cureus. 2020 Aug 8;12(8):e9619. doi: 10.7759/cureus.9619.


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited disorder that occurs due to point mutation in the beta-globin chain resulting in the production of hemoglobin S that tends to become rigid and sickle-shaped under low oxygen concentration. These sickle-shaped red blood cells (RBCs) obstruct the blood vessels leading to reduced blood flow to the organs, causing ischemia and tissue fibrosis. These sickle RBCs being abnormal in shape are frequently sequestered by the spleen, creating a state of chronic anemia in the body. This chronic anemia leads to a high cardiac output state causing cardiac remodeling. To tackle chronic anemia, patients are frequently treated with blood transfusions that makes them more prone to the risk of iron overload (from newly transfused RBCs and iron release from the RBCs that just got sequestered as well as from volume overload) and volume overload causing left ventricular (LV) dilation. The above-mentioned mechanism of cardiac hypertrophy, along with LV dilation together, makes SCD-related cardiomyopathy unique cardiomyopathy with features of restrictive cardiomyopathy with LV dilation. It is interesting to note here that even though there is a presence of LV dilatation, Systolic dysfunction is very uncommon in SCD-related cardiomyopathy.

Keywords: cardiomyopathy; chronic anemia; diastolic dysfunction; iron overload cardiomyopathy; microvascular occlusion; pulmonary hypertenion; restrictive cardiomyopathy; sickle cell disease.

Publication types

  • Review