When a heart attack patient is admitted in to the emergency department and he is also anaemic or anaemic patient gets a heart attack, doctors usually give a blood transfusion with the aim to provide more oxygen get to the heart. There has been no evidence to encourage or discourage this common practice. However, a new meta-analysis of 10 studies of over 203,000 such patients suggests that the practice should be discouraged.
These results need to be confirmed through rigorous randomised trials, says lead author Dr. Saurav Chatterjee, a cardiology fellow at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the Providence VA Medical Center.
In the analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Chatterjee and his co-authors collated and reviewed data from studies in which anemic patients with heart attacks either received “liberal” transfusions or received more restricted versions of the treatment or no transfusions at all.
After statistical adjustments to control for important medical factors, the analysis revealed that the risk of death among who received the liberal transfusions was 12 percent higher than those who did not. Also, the group that received liberal transfusions had double the odds of having another heart attack.
“What we found is that the possibility of real harm exists with transfusion,” Chatterjee said. “It is practised in emergency departments all across the United States. I think it is high time that we need to answer the question definitively with a randomized trial.”