Acute chest syndrome is a lung-related complication of
sickle cell disease that can lower the levels of
oxygen in the blood and can be life-threatening. Repeat occurrences of acute
chest syndrome can cause lung damage. This condition develops more often in
young children but is usually more severe in adults.
Symptoms of acute chest syndrome can include:
Shortness of breath.
Symptoms require emergency evaluation and treatment. Because a person
with acute chest syndrome can deteriorate rapidly, a hospital stay is usually
needed. Some cases are mild and will need little more than careful
observation. More severe cases may need treatment in an intensive care
unit (ICU) of the hospital.
Although its cause is not fully understood, acute chest syndrome is
more likely to develop after:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National
Institutes of Health (2002). The Management of Sickle Cell Disease (NIH Publication No. 02-2117). Available online:
Steinberg MH (2012). Sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 1066–1075. Philadelphia: Saunders.
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