How Does Sickle Cell Trait affect Blood Clots?

Sickle cell trait is typically found in African American populations, basically describing a blood clotting condition that is chronically hyperactive in nature. Having the trait for sickle cell places that individual at a doubled risk for the potential of developing a blood clot. Why?

Sickle cell trait causes the blood cells to take on an abnormal shape – that of a sickle – hence the name. Instead of the circular or oval and slightly concave shape normally seen with red blood cells, sickle shapes take on an elongated, curved or sickled shape.

Sickle cell shaped red blood cells traveling through the blood stream places that individual at risk due to their edges or shape having an increased likelihood of ‘catching’ on one another, and increasing clumping potential. The resulting clumps get stuck in blood vessels, especially around natural curvatures of blood vessels in the legs, trunk, lungs, or around the heart.

Sickle cell disease often manifests itself around 4 to 5 months of age and worsens over time. For many, the condition leads to the development of a variety of complications. One of the complications of sickle cell is a crisis or a severe pain episode caused by blocked blood flow in a vein or artery.

How can I help prevent a sickle cell crisis from developing blood clots?

Some simple ways individuals help themselves to prevent developing blood clots associated with sickle cell traits include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water
  • Maintaining an even body temperature - being too hot or too cold affects the normal flow of blood
  • Avoiding extremes in altitude, such as flying, or hiking in tall mountain ranges, as altitude also affects the thickness or thinness of the blood
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising! With sickle cell, ask your healthcare provider for any risks or limitations prior to engaging in a workout program. Those diagnosed with the condition should use caution with exercise – avoidance of vigorous or strenuous exercise is often recommended.
  • Eat a balanced diet

Do any treatments help prevent blood clotting in those with sickle cell disease?

Some treatment options exist for individuals diagnosed with sickle cell to prevent blood clots, such as a medication called Hydroxyurea and L-glutamine, both approved by the FDA.

More intensive treatments may include a blood transfusion or bone marrow transplant.

As with all health issues, having open and honest communications with your health care provider is beneficial. Alert your medical provider with any new complications, symptoms, or changes in lifestyle or habits.

Prevention of blood clots due to sickle cell may not be entirely avoidable, but interventions are possible to decrease the risk and ensure a life full of meaningful activity.

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  • Tin Fash
    commented 2021-03-14 08:21:05 -0400
    As far as I know the article is correct.
    Persons with sickle cell TRAIT are at least twice as likely to suffer from blood clots.

    Persons with sickle cell DISEASE are in fact far far more than just twice as likely to suffer with blood clots. It’s something like one in four people with full sickle cell DISEASE that suffer with blood clots – from what I have source on the medical websites over the years.

    As much as many do not like to accept – sickle cell TRAIT does have health effects on many people that are carriers.

    It’s a spectrum as to how much sickle shaped cells each carrier is born with.
    Many of my family members have sickle cell TRAIT and a few of us have had our TRAIT content checked out.

    One of my children has a 39 percent blood count as sickle shaped. The amount you carry is the same from birth to death. Does not change.
    A count of anywhere between 20 to 45 percent of sickle shaped cells is what you can carry when you inherited the TRAIT.

    A qualified haematologist offers this service.

    There is an abundance of Knowldge on sickle cell disease and TRAIT if you get out there and do your research.

    Many TRAIT suffers are walking around carrying very high levels of sickle shaped cells and thus more at ricks of the health complications that a person with full sickle cell DISEASE is at.

    This I believe is a condition that has little funding or research. It’s much easier and cheaper for the government health sectors to stick to the very outdated statement of TRAIT suffers have no ill effects – It’s simply not true.
    The findings of increased cases of blood clots in TRAIT carriers is all out there on many independent medical websites. Along with the many other websites that have no medical research on the outdated statement of ‘TRAIT suffers not having ill effects.

    Please do NOT withdraw this article. This is in of the first articles that comes to the top end of the web when this subject is googled. TRAIT suffers need to be aware of their risk.

    On a more positive note there is a wealth of knowledge in how TRAIT suffers can better their symptoms and reduce the risks of sickle CRISIS’s.

    Yes, TRAIT suffers also can experience. Crisis’s. Also there is a kidney cancer that is solely reported from person’s with sickle cell TRAIT – Renal medullary carcinoma, very rare but very real, and only identified in TRAIT carriers.

    Please look after yourselves TRAIT suffers. No authority is going to educate you on the risks that come with carrying TRAIT in higher concentration for the many that are walking around with high sickle cell contents!
    Hydration is number one priority, water water water – Drink drink drink!!
  • Silva Kandiah
    commented 2020-12-05 18:26:23 -0500
    Misleading! Sickle cell trait is not the same as Sickle cell disease. This article confuses the two. Those with trait do not have the complications described. This article should be withdrawn.