The prevalence of abnormal leukocyte count, and its predisposing factors, in patients with sickle cell disease in Saudi Arabia

Anwar E. Ahmed*, Yosra Z. Ali, Ahmad M. Al-Suliman, Jafar M. Albagshi, Majid Al Salamah, Mohieldin Elsayid, Wala R. Alanazi, Rayan A. Ahmed, Donna K. McClish, Hamdan Al-Jahdali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Introduction: High white blood cell (WBC) count is an indicator of sickle cell disease (SCD) severity, however, there are limited studies on WBC counts in Saudi Arabian patients with SCD. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of abnormal leukocyte count (either low or high) and identify factors associated with high WBC counts in a sample of Saudi patients with SCD. Methods: A cross-sectional and retrospective chart review study was carried out on 290 SCD patients who were routinely treated at King Fahad Hospital in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia. An interview was conducted to assess clinical presentations, and we reviewed patient charts to collect data on blood test parameters for the previous 6 months. Results: Almost half (131 [45.2%]) of the sample had abnormal leukocyte counts: low WBC counts 15 (5.2%) and high 116 (40%). High WBC counts were associated with shortness of breath (P=0.022), tiredness (P=0.039), swelling in hands/feet (P=0.020), and back pain (P=0.007). The mean hemoglobin was higher in patients with normal WBC counts (P=0.024), while the mean hemoglobin S was high in patients with high WBC counts (P=0.003). After adjustment for potential confounders, predictors of high WBC counts were male gender (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]=3.63) and patients with cough (aOR=2.18), low hemoglobin (aOR=0.76), and low heart rate (aOR=0.97). Conclusion: Abnormal leukocyte count was common: approximately five in ten Saudi SCD patients assessed in this sample. Male gender, cough, low hemoglobin, and low heart rate were associated with high WBC count. Strategies targeting high WBC count could prevent disease complication and thus could be beneficial for SCD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-191
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Blood Medicine
StatePublished - 25 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Hemoglobin
  • Leukocyte
  • Low heart rate
  • SCD
  • Saudi
  • Saudi Arabia
  • White blood cell


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