Association Between Peripheral Blood Cell Count Abnormalities and Health-Related Quality of Life in the General Population

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Complete blood cell counts, including differentials, are widely available and change on aging. Peripheral blood cell counts outside the normal range have previously been associated with increased mortality rates and a number of comorbid conditions. However, data about the association between blood cell count abnormalities, other than anemia, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) are scarce. We investigated the association between abnormalities in (differential) blood cell counts and HRQoL in 143 191 community-dwelling individuals from the prospective population-based Lifelines cohort. HRQoL was measured using the RAND 36-Item Health Survey. Logistic regression analyses were used to determine the effect of blood cell count abnormalities on the odds of having a lower score than an age- and sex-specific reference value for each domain. Leukocytosis, neutrophilia, and a high neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio were associated with impaired HRQoL across multiple domains, both for younger and older (≥60 years) individuals. Using multivariable models, we confirmed that these associations were independent of the potential confounding factors obesity, smoking, alcohol use, number of medications (as a measure of comorbidity), anemia, and mean corpuscular volume. The impact on HRQoL was most pronounced for high neutrophil levels. Further, high white blood cell counts proved to be a better marker for inferior HRQoL as compared to elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels. Decreased HRQoL in several domains was also observed for individuals with monocytosis, lymphocytosis, and thrombocytosis. Taken together, the present study demonstrates an association between inflammatory and myeloid-skewed blood cell counts and inferior HRQoL in community-dwelling individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere503
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2021


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