NIH Recognize Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month
September is Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month, with this year taking on added significance as it is the 100th anniversary of the first science paper published to describe sickle cell disease.
Akinso: While September marks Sickle Cell Awareness month, researchers are looking ahead to the anniversary of its discovery.
Hoots: September has traditionally been the month carved out by congressional language to designate stipulation of sickle cell awareness.
Akinso: Dr. Keith Hoots is the director of the Division of Blood Diseases and Resources at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Hoots: Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease of the protein hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and the body.
Akinso: Dr. Hoots explains that Chicago physician Dr. James B. Herrick published a paper in the November 1910 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine that described the irregular shape of a patientís red blood cells — a hallmark of the condition now known as sickle cell disease.
Hoots: We are in the middle of the preparation for a large celebration of the discovery of the clinical features of sickle cell 100 years ago by Dr. James B. Herrick from the University of Chicago. That symposium to honor this, along with a presentation by the National Library of Medicine, will be November 16th and 17th 2010.
Akinso: As part of the NHLBI's continuing efforts to move important discoveries into practice, the Institute has asked a panel of the nation's leading sickle cell experts to review the scientific evidence and create a set of clinical guidelines.
Hoots: These guidelines, of which their will be five distributed across the United States by late next year, are designed to advise practicing physicians who have small numbers of patients with sickle cell about appropriate management of these patients.
Akinso: Sickle cell disease affects between 70,000 and 100,000 people in the United States. The disease is most prevalent in the African American community, though individuals of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Central and South American, and Asian Indian heritage can develop the disease. Dr. Hoots stresses the importance of this cause for awareness.
Hoots: The fact that sickle cell disease causes so much individualized pain because of the sickling in muscle and organs means that people with this disease spend lots of time having to get very powerful anti-pain medicine such as morphine to control the pain. Sometimes this leads to miss-categorization of their pain as somehow drug seeking or wrongly addressed sometimes even by physicians.
Akinso: Those who live with sickle cell disease have life-long anemia and can experience severe pain episodes known as crises. For more information, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Keith Hoots
Topic: Sickle Cell Disease
Additional Info: NIH recognizes sickle cell disease awareness month