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Sickle Cell Disease linked to higher risk of developing severe COVID-19

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New findings revealed that people who are suffering from sickle cell disease with a history of acute pain episodes and coexisting organ diseases are more likely to develop severe COVID-19.

Dr. Lana Mucalo of the Medical College of Wisconsin, one of the study’s authors, stated:

“This study tells us that all individuals with sickle cell disease are not at equal levels of risk.”

Patients with a history of pain, as well as individuals with coexisting organ conditions, need to be even more careful to avoid COVID-19 infection than those without any co-morbidities.

This means individuals with sickle cell disease who come to the hospital presenting with pain should also be tested for COVID-19

Mucalo said.

In the United States, sickle cell disease is the most prevalent hereditary red blood cell condition. About 100,000 individuals are affected, the majority of them are Black or Hispanic. The illness may result in extreme pain, damage to joints and organs, and stroke.

According to previous study, sickle cell patients infected with COVID-19 have a higher risk of hospitalisation than Black people without the illness who are infected with COVID.

The current research uses information from SECURE-SCD, a worldwide registry that gathers data on COVID infections in sickle cell disease patients.

Between March 2020 and March 2021, researchers looked at information on 750 children and adults who had registered with the registry. Approximately half of the participants were children. The average age of adults was 31.

A history of pain events was discovered to be a risk factor for admission to the hospital. COVID-19 hospitalisation was more than twice as frequent among children who had previously had more than two pain episodes needing acute care. They had a threefold increased risk of severe COVID disease.

Adults who had had more than two previous acute care visits for pain were almost twice as likely to be hospitalised with COVID-19 and to have severe COVID-19 disease.

Children with sickle cell disease have a greater chance of serious sickness due to heart, lung, or renal problems. Children’s heart and lung problems were also linked to a greater likelihood of hospitalization.

These conditions did not have the same effect in adults, according to the study.

Approximately half of the participants in the study were taking the drug hydroxyurea. This was linked to a reduced probability of presenting with pain during COVID-19 in adults. However, it had no bearing on whether a person would acquire a severe case of COVID-19 or need to be hospitalised, whether they were children or adults.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians were worried about whether to use hydroxyurea simply because we did not yet know the effects

Mucalo said in a journal news release.

Now we can see that while it does not affect COVID-19 severity, it does help to lower the incidence of pain episodes in adults with sickle cell disease, so those who are using it for treatment of their sickle cell conditions should not stop using it.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

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