Sudden death during physical exertion is one form of sudden death seen in patients with sickle cell disease. However, sudden death can occur independent of exertion. A careful postmortem examination is essential in identifying the underlying cause.

In many patients the cause of death is related to a vaso-occlusive crisis.


Death may be associated with:

(1) dehydration

(2) diabetes with ketoacidosis

(3) cardiomyopathy

(4) aplastic crisis

(5) sepsis

(6) pulmonary hypertension

(7) bone marrow fat embolism

(8) acute chest syndrome

(9) stroke

(10) liver failure

(11) splenic sequestration

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