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Hematol Rep. 2014 Dec 3;6(4):5502. doi: 10.4081/hr.2014.5502. eCollection 2014 Nov 19.

Exertional sickling: questions and controversy.

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Departments of Medicine and Pathology and Immunology, Washington University , St. Louis, MO.
University of Notre Dame , Notre Dame, IN, USA.


Sickle cell trait (SCT) occurs in about 8% of African-Americans and is often described to be of little clinical consequence. Over time, a number of risks have emerged, and among these are rare but catastrophic episodes of sudden death in athletes and other individuals associated with physical activities which is often described as exercise collapse associated with sickle trait (ECAST). Despite an epidemiologic link between SCT and sudden death as well as numerous case reports in both medical literature and lay press, no clear understanding of the key pathophysiologic events has been identified. Strategies for identification of individuals at risk and prevention of ECAST have been both elusive and controversial. Stakeholders have advocated for different approaches to this issue particularly with regard to screening for hemoglobin S. Furthermore, the recommendations and guidelines that are in place for the early recognition of ECAST and the prevention and treatment of the illness are not well defined and remain fragmented. Among the cases identified, those in collegiate football players in the United States are often highlighted. This manuscript examines these case studies and the current recommendations to identify areas of consensus and controversy regarding recommendations for prevention, recognition and treatment of ECAST.


exercise collapse; sickle cell trait; sudden death

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