Transfusion Blood May Cause Heart Attack and Even Death

Oct 10, 2007
Two studies performed in the United States suggest that blood transfusion has a negative impact on patients due to the fact that it loses the crucial ability to bring oxygen to body tissue.

New research is performed by two teams of scientists, working at Duke University Medical Center, located in Durham, North Carolina.

Researchers say that after leaving the body, the banked blood almost immediately starts losing the vital gas called nitric oxide. This gas is believed to be very important for delivering oxygen to body tissue. This is because it maintains the tiny blood vessels that are inside the tissue mass, open.

Scientists also believe that the vital gas helps red blood cells to remain flexible, thus being able to fit into the narrow constraints, which are part of the blood vessels, easier. Some studies performed by scientists at Duke University Medical Center for the past five years showed that patients who went through blood transfusions had more chances of developing heart attack, a higher risk of stroke, and death.

Scientists at Duke's also performed several experiments on dogs. These experiments were carried out in order to show that the banked blood could regain the ability of oxygen delivery to the body tissue if nitric oxide is added to it.

New studies suggest that right after red blood cells leave the body, the gas inside the red blood cells begins to break down.

"The issue of transfused blood being potentially harmful to patients is one of the biggest problems facing American medicine," mentioned the senior author of one of the papers, Dr Jonathan Stamler.

Although blood transfusions are very important for maintaining life for some patients, it can do more harm than good.

According to statistics about five million Americans are given each year 14 million units of red blood cells.

Another problem linked to banked blood is its storage. Scientists studied the changes in banked blood throughout the period of 42 days. They noticed that the blood, meant for transfusion, registered a significant change is a rather short period of time. Thus, after only 3 hours researchers noticed the reduction of nitric oxide inside the banked blood.

Now scientists have no doubt that banked blood can do harm. It is worth mentioning that in any medical treatment, there are positive effects and negative side effects. Currently scientists evaluate the risks linked with transfusion blood.

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