Electrocardiographic abnormalities in patients with sickle cell disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2024 May;71(5):e30916. doi: 10.1002/pbc.30916. Epub 2024 Feb 13.


Background: Previous studies have documented that electrocardiography (ECG) can reveal a range of abnormalities, offering valuable insights into the cardiac evaluation of patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). The objective of this study is to assess the patterns of ECG abnormalities observed in these patients with SCD, and to determine their prevalence.

Method: We systematically reviewed the literature using online databases of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Embase, and Google Scholar to identify original studies that reported findings of standard ECG assessments in patients with SCD. Statistical analyses were performed using the random effects model. Additional analyses including sensitivity analysis and subgroup analysis were also conducted.

Results: Analysis of data from 59 studies involving 897,920 individuals with SCD revealed that 75% of these patients had abnormal ECG findings (67%-81%), which were predominantly nonspecific ST-T changes, left ventricular hypertrophy, T-wave changes, prolonged corrected QT (QTc) interval, and ischemic changes. Besides, it was shown that these patients had significantly higher odds of having any ECG abnormalities (OR of 17.50, 4.68-65.49), right atrial enlargement (6.09, 1.48-25.09), left ventricular hypertrophy (3.45, 1.73-6.89), right ventricular hypertrophy (7.18, 2.28-22.57), biventricular hypertrophy (10.11, 1.99-51.38), prolonged QTc interval (5.54, 2.44-12.59), ST depression (3.34, 1.87-5.97), and T-wave changes (5.41, 1.43-20.56). Moreover, the mean of QTc interval was significantly higher among those with SCD (23.51 milliseconds, 16.08-30.94).

Conclusion: Our meta-analysis showed a higher prevalence of abnormal ECG findings among individuals with SCD. A significant proportion of these patients had various ECG abnormalities, suggesting a potential need for regular ECG assessments for patients with SCD.

Keywords: anemia; arrhythmias; cardiac; cardiovascular diseases; electrocardiography; long qt syndrome; meta‐analysis; sickle cell; sickle cell*/complications; ventricular hypertrophy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / complications
  • Electrocardiography
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular* / epidemiology