Ongoing Vaso-Occlusion Can Culminate in VOCs Cycle of Vaso-Occlusion and VOCs Vaso-Occlusive Crises Burden

Vaso-occlusion, vaso-occlusive crises, and sickle cell disease

Ongoing Vaso-Occlusion Can Culminate in VOCs

Ongoing, silent, vaso-occlusion can culminate in vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs)—the clinical hallmark of sickle cell disease—which are unpredictable and painful events (also called vaso-occlusive events) that can lead to medical intervention.1-3


Many Patients Manage Their VOCs at Home4

Many patients manage their VOCs at home, and do not seek the medical attention they need.4

The Cycle of Vaso-Occlusion and VOCs

Multicellular adhesion caused by chronic vascular inflammation promotes vaso-occlusion and VOCs.5,6


Cycle of vaso-occlusion and vaso-occlusive crises






Vaso-occlusion and its resulting VOCs may account for a majority of the burden of sickle cell disease. Most of these events occur at home and are not reported. VOCs can impact patient quality of life and may increase the risk of organ damage; they are associated with higher mortality.2-4 


This analysis included 542 adult subjects diagnosed with SCD who were routinely monitored in clinics at the Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; UNC Health Care System, Chapel Hill, NC; and Grady Health System, Atlanta, GA.9

  • • VOCs were defined as crises requiring inpatient admission9
  • • Median survival was 61 years for patients with 0-4 VOCs per year and 53 years for patients with >4 VOCs per year. Hazard ratio was 3.6982 (P<.0001)9


Vaso-Occlusive Crises Can Impact the Lives of Both Patients and Their Caregivers

Vaso-occlusive crises and quality of life

VOCs are associated with decreased quality of life and increased risk of organ damage, multiorgan failure, and death3,7,10


VOCs are the primary reason for emergency room (ER) visits and hospital admissions in patients with SCD10-12

Vaso-occlusive crises and health care costs

VOCs are associated with frequent hospital admissions, which can lead to increased health care costs in patients with SCD10,13


Vaso-occlusive crises and lifestyle

SCD and the burden of VOCs can affect social relationships, employment, and education14,15


1. Puri L, Nottage KA, Hankins JS, Anghelescu DL. State of the art management of acute vaso-occlusive pain in sickle cell disease. Paediatr Drugs. 2018;20(1):29-42. 2. Ballas SK, Gupta K, Adams-Graves P. Sickle cell pain: a critical reappraisal. Blood. 2012;120(18):3647-3656. 3. Piel FB, Steinberg MH, Rees DC. Sickle cell disease. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(16):1561-1573. 4. Smith WR, Pemberthy LT, Bovbjerg VE, et al. Daily assessment of pain in adults with sickle cell disease. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148(2):94-101. 5. Zhang D, Xu C, Manwani D, Frenette PS. Sickle cell disease: challenges and progress. Neutrophils, platelets, and inflammatory pathways at the nexus of sickle cell disease pathophysiology. Blood. 2016;127(7):801-809. 6. Puri L, Nottage KA, Hankins JS, Anghelescu DL. State of the art management of acute vaso-occlusive pain in sickle cell disease. Paediatr Drugs. 2018;20(1):29-42. 7. Conran N, Franco-Penteado CF, Costa FF. Newer aspects of the pathophysiology of sickle cell disease vaso-occlusion. Hemoglobin. 2009;33(1):1-16. 8. Kanter J, Kruse-Jarres R. Management of sickle cell disease from childhood through adulthood. Blood Rev. 2013;27(6):279-287. 9. Elmariah H, Garrett ME, De Castro LM, et al. Factors associated with survival in a contemporary adult sickle cell disease cohort. Am J Hematol. 2014;89(5):530-535. 10. American Society of Hematology. State of Sickle Cell Disease: 2016 Report. Washington, DC: 2016. 11. Lentz MB, Kautz DD. Acute vaso-occlusive crisis in patients with sickle cell disease. Nursing2018. 2017;41(1):67-68. 12. Ballas SK, Lusardi M. Hospital readmission for adult acute sickle cell painful episodes: frequency, etiology, and prognostic significance. Am J Hematol. 2005;79(1):17-25. 13. Adams-Graves P, Bronte-Jordan L. Recent treatment guidelines for managing adult patients with sickle cell disease: challenges in access to care, social issues, and adherence. Expert Rev Hematol. 2016;9(6):541-542. 14. Swanson ME, Grosse SD, Kulkarni R. Disability among individuals with sickle cell disease. Am J Prev Med. 2011;41(6S4):S390-S397. 15. Brandow AM, Brousseau DC, Panepinto JA. Post-discharge pain, functional limitations, and impact on caregivers of children with sickle cell disease treated for painful events. Br J Haematol. 2009;144(5):782-788.

Use of website is governed by the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Copyright © 2019 Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. All rights reserved.

4/19 SDC-1210783