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Transfusions During Surgery Increase Risk of Infection

Higher transfusion rates in women may explain higher mortality

MONDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Women undergoing cardiac surgery are more likely to receive blood transfusions than men, which may increase their risk of infection and may explain the higher mortality rates among women after surgery, researchers report in the December issue of the Journal of Women's Health.

Mary A.M. Rogers, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues investigated rates of allogeneic blood transfusion and infection in 380 patients (150 women and 230 men) undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

The researchers found that transfusions of allogeneic red blood cells or platelets were much more common in women (odds ratio 21.6), and that women received greater volumes of blood than men. Patients receiving allogeneic blood were more likely to develop an infection (OR, 4.4). The number of blood units received correlated with fever and length of hospital stay. During hospitalization, women had a significantly higher risk of infection, pulmonary dysfunction and mortality.

"One reason for the greater mortality in women after cardiac surgery may be the increased likelihood of receiving non-leukoreduced allogeneic red blood cells and platelets," Rogers and colleagues conclude. "Transfusion increased the risk of infection; infection, then, increased the likelihood of pulmonary dysfunction and mortality."

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