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Blood cells
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Hemoglobin C disease

Definition:

Hemoglobin C disease is a blood disorder passed down through families. It leads to a type of anemia, which occurs when red blood cells break down earlier than normal.



Alternative Names:

Clinical hemoglobin C



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Hemoglobin C is an abnormal type of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. It is a type of hemoglobinopathy . The disease is caused by problem with a gene called beta globin.

The disease most often occurs in African Americans. You are more likely to have hemoglobin C disease if someone in your family has had it.



Symptoms:

Most people do not have symptoms. Occasionally, jaundice may occur. Some persons with this disease may develop gallstones that require treatment.



Signs and tests:

Physical examination may show an enlarged spleen .

Tests that may be done include:



Treatment:

Usually no treatment is needed. Folic acid supplementation may help your body produce normal red blood cells and improve the symptoms of the anemia.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

People with hemoglobin C disease can expect to lead a normal life.



Complications:

Complications include anemia, gall bladder disease, and enlargement of the spleen.



Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of hemoglobin C disease.



Prevention:

Genetic counseling may be appropriate for high-risk couples who wish to have a baby.



References:

Steinberg MH. Sickle cell disease and associated hemoglobinopathies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 166.




Review Date: 2/8/2012
Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Palm Beach Cancer Institute, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network; Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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