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Sickle Cell Disease: Clinical Effects of Iron Overload

Iron overload and subsequent accumulation are a significant problem that is potentially toxic and debilitating. Iron burden is a major determinant of morbidity and mortality in sickle cell disease (SCD).

A positive correlation has been shown between severity of iron overload and frequency of hospitalization in patients with SCD.1

Iron Overload and Outcomes in SCD

Iron overload contributes to increased morbidity and mortality in patients with SCD (Figure).2 However, in contrast to thalassemia, there is currently no evidence that iron overload causes increased morbidity and mortality in SCD.2

Outcomes in SCD Patients with Iron Overload

Figure. Iron overload is associated with poor outcome in SCD.2

TS = transferrin saturation.

As life expectancy continues to increase in patients with SCD, the likelihood of receiving long-term transfusion therapy increases, which in turn increases the risk of developing iron overload.

Learn about measuring iron loading >


  1. Fung EB, et al. Am J Hematol. 2007;82:255-65.
  2. Ballas SK. Semin Hematol. 2001;38 Suppl 1:30-6.

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