Association between wind speed and the occurrence of sickle cell acute painful episodes: results of a case-crossover study

Authors


Vikki G. Nolan, MPH, Boston University School of Medicine, L-320, 715 Albany Street Boston, MA 02118, USA. E-mail: vnolan@bu.edu

Summary

The role of the weather as a trigger of sickle cell acute painful episodes has long been debated. To more accurately describe the role of the weather as a trigger of painful events, we conducted a case-crossover study of the association between local weather conditions and the occurrence of painful episodes. From the Cooperative Study of Sickle Cell Disease, we identified 813 patients with sickle cell anaemia who had 3570 acute painful episodes. We found an association between wind speed and the onset of pain, specifically wind speed during the 24-h period preceding the onset of pain. Analysing wind speed as a categorical trait, showed a 13% increase (95% confidence interval: 3%, 24%) in odds of pain, when comparing the high wind speed to lower wind speed (P = 0·007). In addition, the association between wind speed and painful episodes was found to be stronger among men, particularly those in the warmer climate regions of the United States. These results are in agreement with another study that found an association between wind speed and hospital visits for pain in the United Kingdom, and lends support to physiological and clinical studies that have suggested that skin cooling is associated with sickle vasoocclusion and perhaps pain.

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