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“Fresh” Blood can Lower Risk of Complications due to Heart Surgery

Update Date: Oct 27, 2014 10:22 AM EDT

The freshness of donated blood used during heart surgery can affect the risk of complications, a new study reported. According to the researchers, patients who were given blood that was newly donated had fewer complications post-surgery in comparison to patients who were given blood that was donated at least two weeks prior to their transfusion.

"The findings show that we need to pay attention to the age of the blood we give cardiac surgery patients," said the study's senior author, Dr. Ansar Hassan of the department of cardiac surgery at the New Brunswick Heart Center (NBHC). "Perhaps more importantly, we need new studies to determine what is driving this relationship between the age of blood and the outcomes we are seeing."

For this study, the researchers analyzed medical records taken from the NBHC in Saint John on 2,015 patients. The patients had undergone non-emergency heart surgeries from January 2005 to September 2013. Out of the 2,015 patients, 1,052 of them were given "new" blood, which was defined as blood donated within 14 days of the transfusions. The rest of them were given "old" blood.

After surgery, the researchers found that patients who received new blood had fewer post-operative complications than patients who received old blood. These complications included ventilation for more than 24 hours, bleeding, infection, renal failure, and even death. The team accounted for factors such as age and sex.

"Cardiac surgery creates heart disease survivors," commented Dr. Beth Abramson, Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson, reported in the press release. "We need to ensure outcomes are as successful as possible. This study is an important reminder for Canadians to donate blood so that blood products are available for these surgeries.

The study's findings were presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

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