Sickle cell trait, rhabdomyolysis, and mortality among U.S. Army soldiers

D. Alan Nelson, Patricia A. Deuster, Robert Carter, Owen T. Hill, Vickee L. Wolcott, Lianne M. Kurina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND Studies have suggested that sickle cell trait elevates the risks of exertional rhabdomyolysis and death. We conducted a study of sickle cell trait in relation to these outcomes, controlling for known risk factors for exertional rhabdomyolysis, in a large population of active persons who had undergone laboratory tests for hemoglobin AS (HbAS) and who were subject to exertional-injury precautions. METHODS We used Cox proportional-hazards models to test whether the risks of exertional rhabdomyolysis and death varied according to sickle cell trait status among 47,944 black soldiers who had undergone testing for HbAS and who were on active duty in the U.S. Army between January 2011 and December 2014. We used the Stanford Military Data Repository, which contains comprehensive medical and administrative data on all active-duty soldiers. RESULTS There was no significant difference in the risk of death among soldiers with sickle cell trait, as compared with those without the trait (hazard ratio, 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.46 to 2.13; P = 0.97), but the trait was associated with a significantly higher adjusted risk of exertional rhabdomyolysis (hazard ratio, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.12 to 2.12; P = 0.008). This effect was similar in magnitude to that associated with tobacco use, as compared with no use (hazard ratio, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.23 to 1.94; P<0.001), and to that associated with having a body-mass index (BMI; the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) of 30.0 or more, as compared with a BMI of less than 25.0 (hazard ratio, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.86; P = 0.03). The effect was less than that associated with recent use of a statin, as compared with no use (hazard ratio, 2.89; 95% CI, 1.51 to 5.55; P = 0.001), or an antipsychotic agent (hazard ratio, 3.02; 95% CI, 1.34 to 6.82; P = 0.008). CONCLUSIONS Sickle cell trait was not associated with a higher risk of death than absence of the trait, but it was associated with a significantly higher risk of exertional rhabdomyolysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-442
Number of pages8
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Volume375
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 4 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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