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NHLBI funds research to improve safety of red blood cell transfusions
Date:6/21/2010

tissues. Storage and preparation also affect the deformability of red blood cells. Deformability normally allows the cells to squeeze through capillaries half their size.

Scientists do not fully understand the causes, extent, and timing of these changes, or if they affect transfused patients' health. Recent research on patient outcomes has yielded conflicting results. For example, some studies suggest that red blood cells stored for longer periods of time are less effective and more likely to harm transfusion recipients. They associate older stored red cells with more complications and deaths among heart surgery patients, trauma patients, and critically ill patients in the intensive care unit. In contrast, other investigations have found no differences in clinical outcomes using red cells stored short-term or long-term.

Most of these studies, however, were observational and cannot prove cause and effect. In addition, these studies might be difficult to interpret accurately because they cannot be adjusted to rule out potential confounding effects such as patients' illnesses, because they involved small sample sizes, or because other factors prevent the results from being applied to broader groups.

RECESS: A Clinical Trial for Blood Storage Time

The NHLBI's Red Cell Storage Duration Study, or RECESS, is the first large, multi-center, randomized clinical trial to determine whether red blood cell storage time affects the postoperative outcomes of heart surgery patients. Over one-half of heart surgery patients need at least one transfusion of red blood cells, accounting for a large portion of red cell transfusions in the United States.

"Only through randomized, controlled clinical trials such as RECESS will we be able to determine whether the age of stored red blood cells affects patient outcomes," said George Nemo, Ph.D., NHLBI program officer for the Transfusion Medicine/Hemostasis Clinical Trials Network,
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Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
NHLBI_news@nhlbi.nih.gov
301-496-4236
NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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