Utility of the HScore for Predicting COVID-19 Severity


South Atlantic


Grand Strand Medical Center

Document Type


Publication Date



covid-19 retro, anti-cytokine, cytokine storm, covid-19, hscore


Family Medicine | Internal Medicine | Investigative Techniques | Virus Diseases


Background: Cytokine release syndrome is a life-threatening condition known to cause fever and multiple organ dysfunction and is suspected to be related to the severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We sought to examine the utility of the HScore and non-cytokine markers of inflammation for predicting COVID-19 outcomes. We hypothesized that cytokine storm, assessed by a modified HScore, would be linked to more severe COVID-19 symptoms and higher mortality.

Methods: A retrospective review of records from a large, private hospital system was conducted on patients with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) (2014-2019) and compared to a large cohort of COVID-19-positive patients (2020). Patients with a sufficient number of elements in their record for a modified HScore calculation (n=4663), were further subdivided into population 1 (POP1, n=67; HLH, n=493 COVID-19), which had eight HScore elements, and population 2 (POP2) with six available HScore elements (POP2, n=102; HLH, n=4561 COVID-19).

Results: Modified HScore predicted COVID-19 severity in POP1 and POP2 as measured by higher odds of being on a ventilator (POP2 OR: 1.46, CI: 1.42-1.5), ICU admission (POP2 OR: 1.38, CI: 1.34-1.42), a longer length of stay (p<0.0001), and higher mortality (POP2 OR: 1.34, CI: 1.31-1.39). C-reactive protein (CRP) and white blood cell (WBC) count were the most consistent non-cytokine predictors of COVID-19 severity.

Conclusion: Cytokine storm, evaluated using a modified HScore, appeared to play a role in the severity of COVID-19 infection, and selected non-cytokine markers of inflammation were predictive of disease severity.

Publisher or Conference