How does pulmonary hypertension develop in sickle cell disease (SCD)?

Updated: May 12, 2021
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Blood in the pulmonary circulation is deoxygenated, resulting in a high degree of polymer formation. The lungs develop areas of microinfarction and microthrombi that hinder the flow of blood. The resulting areas that lack oxygenation aggravate the sickling process. Pulmonary hypertension may develop. This may be due in part to the depletion of nitric oxide. Various studies have found that more than 40% of adults with SCD have pulmonary hypertension that worsens with age.


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