Characterization of epidemiological distribution and outcome of COVID-19 in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia: a nationwide retrospective multi-centre study during first wave in Italy

Patrizia Suppressa, Fabio Pagella, Gennaro Mariano Lenato, Eleonora Gaetani, Ilaria Serio, Maristella Salvatora Masala, Giuseppe Spinozzi, Roberta Lizzio, Elina Matti, Annalisa De Silvestri, Giulio Cesare Passali, Maria Aguglia, Claudia Crocione, Carlo Sabbà

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Background: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to have a devastating impact across the world. A number of pre-existing common clinical conditions were reported to represent risk factors for more severe COVID-19 outcomes. Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) is a rare vascular heritable disorders, characterized by complications secondary to visceral Arterio-Venous Malformations. The impact of HHT, as well as for many Rare Diseases (RDs) on infection susceptibility profile and clinical adverse outcome risk is an unresolved issue. Objectives: The main objectives were: to assess the clinical features and outcomes of HHT patients infected with COVID-19; to compare the relative infection risk in these patients with the Italian general population throughout the first pandemic wave; to investigate the factors potentially associated with severe COVID-19 outcome in HHT patients, and the possible impact of COVID-19 infection on HHT-related symptoms/complications. Finally, we aimed to estimate how the lockdown-associated wearing of personal protective equipment/individual protection devices could affect HHT-related telangiectasia bleeding frequency. Methods: The study is a nation-wide questionnaire-based survey, with a multi-Center retrospective cross-sectional design, addressed to the whole Italian HHT population. COVID-19 cases, occurring throughout the first pandemic wave, were collected by a questionnaire-based semi-structured interview. Only the cases ascertained by laboratory confirmation (molecular/serological) were included for epidemiological estimates. Information concerning eventual SarS-Cov-2 infection, as well as regarding HHT-related manifestations and HHT-unrelated co-morbidities were collected by the questionnaire. Prevalence data were compared to Italian general population in the same period. Results: The survey disclosed 9/296 (3.04%) COVID-19 cases, 8/9 of them being resident in Lombardy, the main epidemic epicenter. Pneumonia was reported by 4/9 patients, which prompted hospital admission and intensive care management in 2 cases. No fatal outcome was recorded. After careful refinement of epidemiological analysis, the survey evidenced overlapping infection risk in HHT compared to general population. Conclusions: COVID-19 infection profile parallels geographical distribution of epidemic foci. COVID-19 in HHT patients can lead to highly variable clinical profile, likely overlapping with that of general population. The HHT disease does not seem to involve a different approach in terms of hospital admission and access to intensive care with respect to general population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number378
JournalOrphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia
  • PANDEMICS 2020
  • Rare diseases
  • SARS-CoV-2 infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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