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Abnormality in the Red Blood Count Cell Poses High Risks

nterpret hematocrit test results to improve patient outcomes."

Wu and his colleagues set out to evaluate the prevalence of pre-operative anemia and polycythemia and their effects on 30-day post-operative outcomes for veterans. Wu and his team mined data from the Veterans Affairs National Surgical Quality Improvement Program to conduct their work, looking at medical data of 310,311 veterans aged 65 or older who underwent major non-cardiac surgery. These surgeries, which ranged from total knee replacements to prostate surgeries to hernia repairs, took place between 1997 and 2004 in 132 Veterans' Affairs Medical Centers across the United States.

Researchers used patients' pre-operative hematocrit screening results, and a review of the scientific literature on hematocrit values, to put patients into one of three categories: anemic (hematocrit values of less than 39 percent), normal (hematocrit values of between 39 and 54 percent) and polycythemic (hematocrit values of 54 percent or higher). Then, from each point deviation from normal, researchers estimated increases in the risk of death or cardiac events -- mainly heart attack and cardiac arrest -- 30 days after surgery.

The result was a 1.6 per cent increase in the risk of death for every percentage point of deviation from the normal range for hematocrit levels.

Such an observational study does not reveal any cause-and-effect relationships between low or high hemocrit values and risk of side-effects after surgery, the researchers noted.


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