Women die and get infections more often than men after heart surgery because they tend to receive more blood transfusions, which boost the risks of bad outcomes, according to a study published in the December Journal of Womens Health.
Co-authored by researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center and University of Michigan Health System, the study raises another red flag about transfusions, an ancient medical practice that some doctors now believe is overused.
Blood transfusions were once reserved for only the sickest patients, but have evolved from a life-saving therapy to an elective treatment for many illnesses. Patients today receive donor blood, for example, to prevent severe anemia and improve oxygen delivery due to heart failure.
For 100 years weve assumed blood transfusions are good for people, but most of these clinical practices grew before we had the research to support it, said co-author Neil Blumberg, M.D., professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of Transfusion Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
In the current study, Blumberg and corresponding author Mary Rogers, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, Department of Internal Medicine, analyzed the data of 380 adult Rochester, N.Y., patients who had primary coronary artery bypass graft surgery, primary valve replacement, or both, in 1997 or 1998 at Strong Memorial Hospital. Researchers looked at in-hospital deaths, lengths of stay, number of days of infection and fever, and whether any patients developed pulmonary dysfunction, a serious side effect of heart surgery. No external funding was received for the study.
Sixty percent of the patients were men and about 40 percent were women. However, the women were 44.6 percent more likely to receive a blood transfusion than the men. Of the 150 women studied, 149 (99 percent) received donor blood during their hospitalization, compared to 77 percent of the men. <
|Contact: Leslie Orr|
University of Rochester Medical Center