Chronic organ failure in adult sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease is now a chronic adult illness characterized by progressive multiorgan failure, particularly involving the brain and kidney. The etiology is multifactorial; it includes hemolysis and nitric oxide deficiency. As patients age, most experience neurologic insult. Twenty-five percent of older adults have had a clinical stroke and at least half of the population have had a silent infarct, cortical atrophy, and neurocognitive impairment. Periodic screening with neuroimaging and neurocognitive testing is recommended. Identification and correction of modifiable risk factors such as nocturnal hypoxemia, obstructive sleep apnea, and physical exercise programs should be implemented. Patients with neurocognitive impairment require cognitive remediation and educational accommodations. Chronic renal disease occurs in 25% of older adults and results in 50% of their deaths. Renal failure often develops insidiously. It can be prevented or minimized by early screening and treatment of modifiable risk factors including hypertension and microalbuminuria. There is an increasing number of therapeutic options, including inhibitors of the renin angiotensin system, angiotensin-II receptor blockers, endothelin-1 receptor antagonist, and haptoglobin therapy. Patients with sickle cell disease have increased mortality rates from renal failure compared with nonsickle cell patients, in part from a lack of access to early multidisciplinary care, including timely initiation of dialysis and renal transplantation.