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Am J Cardiol. 2008 Jul 15;102(2):115-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.03.027. Epub 2008 May 9.

Impact of red blood cell transfusion on clinical outcomes in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

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Department of Cardiology, Rambam Medical Center and the Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Haifa, Israel.


Divergent views remain regarding the safety of treating anemia with red blood cell (RBC) transfusion in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). We used a prospective database to study effect of RBC transfusion in patients with acute myocardial infarction (MI; n = 2,358). Cox regression models were used to determine the association between RBC transfusion and 6-month outcomes, incorporating transfusion as a time-dependent variable. The models adjusted for baseline variables, propensity for transfusion, and nadir hemoglobin previous to the transfusion. One hundred ninety-two patients (8.1%) received RBC transfusion. Six-month mortality rates were higher in patients receiving transfusion (28.1% vs 11.7%, p <0.0001). The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for mortality was 1.9 in transfused patients (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3 to 2.9). Interaction between RBC transfusion and nadir hemoglobin with respect to mortality (p = 0.004) was significant. Stratified analyses showed a protective effect of transfusion in patients with nadir hemoglobin < or=8 g/dL (adjusted HR 0.13, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.65, p = 0.013). By contrast, transfusion was associated with increased mortality in patients with nadir hemoglobin >8 g/dL (adjusted HR 2.2, 95% CI 1.5 to 3.3; p <0.0001). Similar results were obtained for the composite end point of death/MI/heart failure (p for interaction = 0.04). In conclusion, RBC transfusion in patients with acute MI and hemoglobin < or =8 g/dL may be appropriate. The increased mortality observed in transfused patients with nadir hemoglobin above 8 g/dL underscores the clinical difficulty of balancing risks and benefits of RBC transfusion in the setting of ACS.

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