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Blood transfusion study: Less is more
Date:8/5/2009

ter discharge. All had received coronary artery bypass graft surgery from 2003 to 2006. They found that 30 percent of variation in transfusion practices seemed to be due to widely varied practices among hospital sites.

Also, blood use among women patients ranged from 72.5 percent to 100 percent, and blood use among men varied from about 50 percent to 100 percent. Transfusions with donor blood were associated with infections of the genitourinary system, respiratory tract, bloodstream, digestive tract and skin, the study said.

The risk of death in the hospital was nearly 5 times greater among patients who received a blood transfusion, and the risk of death in the next 30 days was nearly three times greater. Some of the risk may've been due to the underlying condition that led to transfusion but an increasingly convincing body of evidence demonstrates that some of the effect is almost certainly due to the transfusion itself, Blumberg said.

Blood transfusions are extremely common in the United States. Some of the typical reasons for transfusions include prevention of anemia and improving oxygen delivery in heart failure.

Blumberg has been a long-time advocate for fewer transfusions and, when they are necessary, for using blood from which the donor's white cells have been removed. This process, called leukoreduction, is believed to diminish the chances of infection and inflammation, research has shown.

"Blood transfusions are certainly necessary in life-threatening situations," Blumberg said. "But this study and other studies confirm they should be a last resort, not a first resort, as they often are."

For decades the URMC has been a leader in the study of blood transfusions, and Strong Memorial Hospital at URMC was among the first in the country to begin using leukoreduced blood for all its patients.

More recently, a team at Strong began to further refine the guidelines for blood transfusion. As a resul
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Contact: Karin Christensen
karin_christensen@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-1311
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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