Acute chest syndrome (ACS) is a complication of sickle cell disease (SCD). Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that affects a protein found in red blood cells, known as hemoglobin. With sickle cell disease, your red blood cells are shaped like crescents instead of their typical round shape. This causes difficulty for the sickle red blood cells to pass through blood vessels, meaning that the hemoglobin is unable to carry an adequate amount of oxygen throughout the body.
Acute chest syndrome is a severe lung-related complication of this disease that can affect both children and adults, creating symptoms similar to pneumonia. This condition occurs when sickle cells block the blood vessels in the lungs, and is considered one of the leading causes of hospitalizations and death in people with sickle cell disease.