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Surgery. 1988 Jun;103(6):665-70.

Limits of cardiac compensation in anemic baboons.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60616.


The risk of homologous blood may cause physicians to withhold red cell treatment after acute blood loss. We believe that in the euvolemic patient with acute anemia, the heart is the principal organ at risk. The cardiac compensation to extreme anemia is unknown and is the purpose of this report. Fourteen adult baboons were anesthetized, paralyzed, and ventilated with room air. Left atrial and coronary sinus catheters were inserted surgically. Experimental animals (n = 7) were hemodiluted at constant left atrial pressure with 5% human serum albumin. Control animals (n = 7) underwent similar volume exchanges with fresh, cross-matched, homologous red blood cells resuspended in human serum albumin, also at constant left atrial pressure. Six of seven experimental animals survived until hematocrit levels were 4%. Adequate cardiac compensation was observed until hematocrit levels were less than 10%. Increased flow, without increases in the O2 extraction ratio, was the mechanism of compensation used by the healthy heart with patent coronary vessels.

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