Background & aims: Sickle cell disease (SCD), a genetic disorder resulting from the presence of a mutated hemoglobin S (HbS), has a worldwide distribution and causes significant morbidity and mortality in children and adults. Few studies addressed the determinants of SCD severity in adults; therefore, we investigated the impact of nutrition on the outcome of SCD and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in adult patients.
Methods: In this longitudinal study, we recruited and prospectively followed 62 adults with SCD (aged ≥18 years) for a median of 93 months. At entry and follow-up, patients provided medical and dietary history, had a physical examination and anthropometric measurements, assessed protein-energy intake, measurement of micronutrient levels, estimation of SCD severity score, and determination of the HRQoL (SF-26v2). The study outcome was a composite of hospitalization due to SCD crises or death.
Results: At baseline, 42 (67.74%) patients had macro and, or micro-undernutrition (Group A), and 20 (32.26%) were well nourished. (Group B). The BMI and most anthropometric measurements were significantly lower in SCD patients compared to control subjects. Seventy percent of SCD patients had vitamin D, vitamin B12, and zinc deficiencies. Thirty-six under-nourished patients (86%) had gastrointestinal disorders. During follow-up, 46 patients (74.19%) developed one or more vaso-occlusive pain crises or other SCD related complications that required hospitalization. Significant differences in most SF-36v2 domains existed between well-nourished and undernourished SCD patients. Protein-energy and micronutrient deficiencies were independent predictors of severe SCD and mortality. Correction of undernutrition and hydroxyurea therapy improved SCD severity scores and HRQoL.
Conclusions: Patients with sickle cell disease have various degrees of macro and micro deficiencies, which increase SCD severity and hospitalizations and reduce the health-related quality of life. Early diagnosis and prompt correction of macro and micronutrient deficiencies need to be incorporated in the standard of care of SCD patients to improve the disease outcomes.