This comprehensive review provides an insight into the pathophysiology, epidemiology, evaluation, and treatment of sickle cell anemia (SCA)-related stroke in developed and developing countries. Vascular injury, hypercoagulability and vaso-occlusion play a role in the pathophysiology of stroke in SCA. Transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) has lowered the incidence of ischemic stroke from 11% to 1% as TCD identifies children who are at risk for stroke, providing opportunities for interventions to reduce this risk. Whereas blood exchange is indicated in acute stroke, chronic transfusions (either simple or exchange on a monthly basis) are used for primary as well as secondary stroke prevention in developed countries. Children with abnormally high TCD velocities (≥ 200 cm/s) are at high risk of stroke and might benefit from hydroxyurea or hydroxycarbamide (HU) after a period of a successful transition from chronic transfusions. Hematopoietic stem cell transplant presents a cure for SCA. Gene therapy is currently investigated and may be offered to patients with SCA who had a stroke or who are at high risk of stroke if proven efficacious and safe. However, gene therapy is not likely to be implemented in low-income countries due to cost. Alternatively, HU is utilized for primary and secondary stroke prevention in developing countries. Further expansion of TCD implementation should be a priority in those settings.
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