Transfusing more blood may save people with heart attack and anemia

An international clinical trial led by Dr. Jeffrey L. Carson at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has yielded valuable insights into the use of blood transfusions for patients who have suffered a heart attack and have anemia.

The study, named Myocardium Infarction and Transfusion (MINT), aims to determine the most effective approach to improve survival rates and reduce the risk of recurrent heart attacks in these patients.

The Significance of Transfusion Thresholds

Transfusion threshold trials are crucial for helping physicians make informed decisions about the best care for their patients.

The MINT trial’s goal is to establish evidence-based transfusion standards for heart attack patients with anemia, ultimately enhancing their survival prospects and lowering the risk of additional heart attacks.

The MINT trial involved the evaluation of two different transfusion strategies, with over 3,500 participants enrolled at 144 hospitals across six countries.

Half of the participants were assigned a liberal transfusion strategy, where they received more blood to maintain a blood count greater than 10 grams per deciliter (g/dL).

The other half followed a restrictive transfusion strategy, receiving blood only if their blood count fell below eight g/dL.

All participants had a history of heart attack and anemia, indicated by a hemoglobin blood count of less than 10 g/dL (normal range: 12 to 13 g/dL).

Key Findings

The MINT trial’s results suggest that the liberal transfusion strategy may improve outcomes for anemic patients who have experienced heart attacks without causing harm.

Although the difference in outcomes was not statistically significant, the study revealed a 2.4 percent reduction in the frequency of mortality or recurrent heart attacks with the liberal approach.

The trial involved a diverse group of participants, many of whom had a history of heart attacks, heart failure, diabetes, or kidney disease. The average age of the participants was 72, with 45 percent being women.

While the transfusion strategy was assigned randomly, healthcare professionals at the participating hospitals had the discretion to adhere to the study to ensure the standard of care for their patients.

Future Directions

The researchers emphasize the need for further investigation. They intend to explore whether specific patient groups may benefit more from one approach over the other and why. These questions will guide future research in this area.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about Heart disease hidden in plain sight: silent blockages multiply heart attack risks and findings of Essential vitamins for heart health: a guide to a healthy heart.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about Avocados could be your heart’s best friend, says Penn State study and results showing The hidden dangers of processed foods: a closer look at heart health.

The research findings can be found in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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