Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Blood Transfusions May Be Harmful To Some Patients

Date:
January 4, 2008
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Heart attack patients in the U.S. are far more likely to receive a blood transfusion than patients in other countries with the very same condition, but the outcome of their treatment is no better. Increasing evidence suggests transfusions may not only be unnecessary but may actually be harmful to some patients.

Heart attack patients in the U.S. are far more likely to receive a blood transfusion than patients in other countries with the very same condition, but the outcome of their treatment is no better, according to Duke University Medical Center researchers.

Related Articles


The team examined almost 24,000 records of patients in 27 countries who suffered a certain type of heart attack, and found that non-U.S. patients were 80 percent less likely to get a transfusion when undergoing non-invasive treatments, 70 percent less likely to get blood when having an invasive procedure and 60 percent less likely to undergo transfusion as a result of coronary bypass surgery – a difficult and bloody procedure where transfusion rates might be expected to be similar.

"This is interesting because the data also show that patients do pretty much the same, whether they get a transfusion or not," says Dr. Sunil Rao, a cardiologist at Duke and the lead author of the study. "We have to conclude that some of us are doing too many transfusions or others are doing too few." Rao says clinical guidelines aren't clear enough to help them figure out which approach is best.

The study, published in the January 1 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, comes at a time when increasing evidence suggests transfusions may not only be unnecessary but may actually be harmful to some patients. In earlier studies, Duke scientists found that heart attack patients with hematocrit above 25 (hematocrit is a measure of the supply of oxygen-carrying red blood cells) were more likely to have a second heart attack and were four times more likely to die within a month if they got transfusions.

Rao says most American physicians are trained to prescribe a transfusion when a cardiac patient's hematocrit falls below 30.

"But that's not based on good science," says Rao. "The first successful blood transfusion was done decades ago, and yet we still haven't conducted the randomized, prospective clinical trials we need to do in order to find out which cardiac patients should get transfusions, and when they should get them."

Rao says there's no doubt some transfusions are necessary. In extreme cases, for example, where patients undergo massive blood loss or become severely anemic, transfusion can save lives. But he feels physicians often rush to prescribe the procedure when it may not be needed. "We believe the body can automatically respond to lower hematocrit levels by manufacturing more red blood cells. We need to allow time for that to happen."

Researchers aren't sure why transfusions might hurt some patients. Recent research by Duke's Jonathan Stamler found that banked blood quickly loses nitric oxide, a chemical important in the transfer of oxygen from red blood cells to the tissues that need it.

"It's not surprising that outcomes are not better for heart attack patients who get transfusions," says Stamler. "But they should be. The problem lies with the quality of banked blood. We need to correct that, and then do more studies."

"There is too much confusion and controversy over blood transfusions today," says Rao. "It is amazing to me that in 2007, we don't know how to appropriately prescribe transfusion. Blood is a national resource donated by the public. We need to be accountable to the public and to our patients as well."

The study was funded by the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Colleagues who contributed to the study include senior author Robert Harrington, director of DCRI; Christopher Granger, Kristin Newby and Jie-Lena Sun, also of DCRI; Robert Califf, director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, Karen Chiswell, North Carolina State University; Frans Van de Werf, Universitaire Ziekenhuizen Leuven; Harvey White, Auckland City Hospital; and Paul Armstrong, University of Alberta.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Blood Transfusions May Be Harmful To Some Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080103134411.htm>.
Duke University. (2008, January 4). Blood Transfusions May Be Harmful To Some Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080103134411.htm
Duke University. "Blood Transfusions May Be Harmful To Some Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080103134411.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins