The pulmonary complications of sickle cell disease (SCD) have a high morbidity and mortality. Fatal pulmonary complications occur in 20% of adults; those with sickle chronic lung disease (SCLD) and pulmonary hypertension have a significantly increased mortality. Treatment of SCLD is only supportive. Recurrent acute chest syndrome (ACS) episodes are the major risk factor for SCLD, and ACS is the leading cause of death. Adults with SCD tend to have restrictive lung function abnormalities, whereas, in children, obstructive abnormalities are more frequent. Lung function abnormalities are common even in young children and may reflect their chronic anaemia and increased pulmonary capillary blood volume, which increases airway obstruction and may be responsible for their increased wheezing. Whether more aggressive treatment of anaemia would improve lung function and long-term outcomes merits testing. Children with SCD experience a decline in lung function, which is most rapid in younger children in whom ACS episodes are most common highlighting the importance of identifying effective strategies to prevent and optimally treat ACS.
Part of the book: Sickle Cell Disease