WEDNESDAY, July 14, 2021 (HealthDay News) — A history of severe pain episodes and coexisting organ conditions may increase the risk for severe COVID-19 illness and hospitalization in individuals living with sickle cell disease (SCD), according to a study published online July 1 in Blood Advances.

Lana Mucalo, M.D., from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and colleagues established the SECURE-SCD Registry to collect data on patients with SCD and COVID-19 illness to understand the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection on this population. The analysis included 750 cases of COVID-19 illness in patients with SCD that were reported to the registry as of March 23, 2021.

The researchers found that history of pain (relative risk [RR], 2.15) and SCD heart/lung comorbidities (RR, 1.61) were risk factors for COVID-19 hospitalization in children, while history of pain (RR, 1.78) was a risk factor for hospitalization in adults. Similarly, the risk for developing serious COVID-19 illness was higher in children with a history of pain (RR, 3.09), SCD heart/lung comorbidities (RR, 1.76), and SCD renal comorbidities (RR, 3.67). For adults, a history of pain remained a risk factor (RR, 1.94). In children, history of pain and SCD renal comorbidities increased the risk for pain during COVID-19. For adults, an increased risk for pain during COVID-19 was associated with a history of pain, SCD heart/lung comorbidities, and female sex. There was no effect seen for hydroxyurea on hospitalization and COVID-19 severity.

“This study tells us that all individuals with sickle cell disease are not at equal levels of risk,” Mucalo said in a statement.

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