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  Anemia, Hemolytic  
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Signs, symptoms and indicators | Conditions that suggest it | Contributing risk factors | Other conditions that may be present


This is an uncommon anemia that develops when red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can replace them. The result is a shortage of red blood cells to transport oxygen. Early destruction can result from genetic defects or acquired defects. Genetic defects in the red blood cells' physical or chemical makeup can lead to a rigid or elongated shape. The deformity causes red blood cells to become trapped in the spleen, where most are destroyed before the end of their normal lifespan. More commonly, defective hemoglobin causes red blood cells to develop a crescent (sickle) shape. Sickle cells lodge in small arteries, causing acute pain and blood clots.

Acquired defects can occur when certain infections or the use of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs break down red blood cells. Occasionally, one can acquire a mild form of anemia through an autoimmune process. Some artificial heart valves increase the risk of red blood cell destruction by directly injuring cells.

Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle Cell anemia is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Normal red blood cells are round like doughnuts, and move through small blood tubes in the body to deliver oxygen. Sickle red blood cells become hard, sticky and crescent-shaped. When these cells go through the capillaries, they clog the flow and break apart. This can cause pain, damage, a low blood count or anemia.

There is a substance in the red cells called hemoglobin that carries oxygen. One little change in this substance causes the hemoglobin to form long rods in the red cell when it gives away oxygen. These rigid rods change the red cell into a sickle shape.

A person inherits the abnormal hemoglobin from both parents who may be carriers of the sickle cell trait or have sickle cell disease. In this case one is born with the sickle cell hemoglobin and it is present for life. Sickle cell occurs in many ethnic groups including African Americans, Arabs, Greeks, Italians, Latin Americans and Native Americans. All races should be screened for this hemoglobin at birth.

A simple blood test called the hemoglobin electrophoresis can be performed by a doctor or local sickle cell foundation. This test will determine whether a person is a carrier of the sickle cell trait or has the disease. Most states in the US now perform the sickle cell test when babies are born. Sickle cell trait does not adversely affect an individual's life expectancy.


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Anemia, Hemolytic:
Lab Values - Cells  Macrocytic red cells

Lab Values - Common

  Rapid pulse rate

Symptoms - Cardiovascular

  (Possibly) enlarged spleen
 Most of the hemolytic anemias can cause an enlarged spleen.

Symptoms - General

  Constant fatigue

Symptoms - Respiratory

  Easily being short of/always being short of breath

Symptoms - Skin - General

  Yellow-tinged skin
  Lighter/paler skin color

Symptoms - Urinary

  Dark urine color

Conditions that suggest Anemia, Hemolytic:
Circulation  Pulmonary Embolism
 Sickle cell disease increases the risk of pulmonary embolism.

Lab Values

  Low White Count

Symptoms - Cardiovascular

  (History of) hemolytic anemia

  Absence of hemolytic anemia

Risk factors for Anemia, Hemolytic:
Autoimmune  Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythromatosis) / Risk
 Anemia as a result of chronic inflammation is a characteristic but not especially common feature of active SLE.





Lab Values - Chemistries

  High serum iron

Organ Health

  Enlarged Spleen

Anemia, Hemolytic suggests the following may be present:
Autoimmune  Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythromatosis) / Risk
 Anemia as a result of chronic inflammation is a characteristic but not especially common feature of active SLE.

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative