Study Shows That Low Levels Of Lymphocyte Blood Cells (Lymphopenia) Indicates Increased Risk Of Death
, a condition in which a patient exhibits lower levels of lymphocyte
blood cells could be an early warning for future illness, as low counts were associated with a 60% increase in death from any cause, found a Danish study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)
Dr Stig Bojesen along with other coauthors from his research team told Thailand Medical
News via a phone interview, "Our study showed that participants with lymphopenia
were at high risk of dying from any cause, regardless of any other risk factor for all-cause mortality including age."
Typically, lymphopenia i
s often detected during routine blood tests, and patients are not usually referred for further investigation because the value of lymphopenia
as a predictor of future health was not known.
Medical researchers included 108,135 people of Danish descent aged 20-100 years who were enrolled in the Copenhagen General Population Study between 2003 and 2015. An incidental finding of a low lymphocyte
count was associated with a 1.6-fold increase in the risk of death
from any cause and a 1.5- to 2.8-fold increased risk of death
from cancer, cardiovascular disease
, respiratory disease, infections and other causes. During the study period, a total of 10,372 people died.
It was also observed that older age was associated with decreasing lymphocyte
The correlating link between lymphopenia
may be because of reduced immune capacity to survive potentially lethal diseases. Lymphopenia
could also indicate frailty which could lead to illness and death.
The medical researchers hope their findings may help doctors identify at-risk people. "Using the absolute 2-year risks of all-cause mortality, physicians can identify high-risk individuals with lymphopenia
(e.g., smokers older than 80 years) who might benefit from additional surveillance," they write, although the benefits of such surveillance are not known.
Reference: Incidental lymphopenia and mortality: a prospective cohort study
Marie Warny, Jens Helby, Børge Grønne Nordestgaard, Henrik Birgens and Stig Egil Bojesen
CMAJ January 13, 2020 192 (2) E25-E33; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.191024