Friday, September 30, 2016

Blood transfusion linked to kidney damage

“Come for a broken heart and we’ll break your kidneys, too,” would seem to be the motto of the medical profession.

A massive study of the records of nearly 2 million patients has proven that blood transfusion causes kidney injury. This is significant because the data study moves it from the realm of the anecdotal (as in, ‘many doctors have noticed what seems to be a connection’) into the realm of hard fact.

Of the 1,756,864 patients who underwent angioplasty for a heart problem – generally considered a “non-invasive” procedure – 38,626 were given a blood transfusion. The justification was generally low blood count, “anemia” (hemoglobin below 10) or bleeding. Eight patients were given blood whose records showed neither anemia nor bleeding.

Of the 38,626 who were given blood, a whopping 35%  – 13,520 patients – suffered from AKI, Acute Kidney Injury. Only 8% of the non-transfused patients developed AKI. Fully twice as many patients with AKI (18.4% versus 9.1%) had congestive heart failure within 2 weeks.

“In this retrospective study, we identified an independent association between blood transfusion and AKI in [patients undergoing angioplasty],” the researchers wrote. “This association was significant even among patients with anemia at baseline… suggesting that a restrictive blood transfusion policy needs to be further investigated for its potential to improve [patient] safety.” [Read the raw data here…]

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 Bill K. Underwood is a freelance columnist and author of several books, including two novels - The Minotaur Medallion, and the best-selling Resurrection Day. Both are available in paperback here

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