Heart patients are more than twice as likely to die during their first 30 days of hospitalization if they receive a blood transfusion to treat blood loss or anemia, according to a new analysis by cardiologists at the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI).
Additionally, such patients are more than three times as likely to suffer a heart attack within 30 days, when compared to those who did not receive a transfusion.
These findings -- which emerged after a retrospective analysis of the treatments received by more than 24,000 patients hospitalized with an acute coronary syndrome -- run counter to earlier and smaller observational studies. For this reason, the researchers believe that a large randomized clinical trial needs to be initiated to resolve the issue and provide clear evidence-based guidance on how best to treat these patients. "Until such a trial can be conducted to resolve the differences between our study and past studies, we suggest caution in the routine use of blood transfusion for heart patients who are stable," said Duke cardiologist Sunil Rao, M.D., lead author of a study. For example, Rao said that cardiologists should not automatically order blood transfusions for anemic patients. The study results will be published Oct. 6, 2004, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "The risks of transfusion remained even after we statistically controlled for other factors, such age, other illnesses and timing of the transfusions."
Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
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