Hemoglobin concentration does not impact 3-month outcome following acute ischemic stroke

Kartavya Sharma, Daniel J. Johnson, Brenda Johnson, Steven M. Frank, Robert D. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: There is uncertainty regarding the effect of anemia and red blood cell transfusion on functional outcome following acute ischemic stroke. We studied the relationship of hemoglobin parameters and red cell transfusion with post stroke functional outcome after adjustment for neurological severity and medical comorbidities. Methods: Retrospective cohort study of 536 patients discharged with a diagnosis of ischemic stroke from a tertiary care hospital between January 2012 and April 2015. Hemoglobin level at hospital admission, lowest recorded value during hospitalization (nadir), delta hemoglobin (admission minus nadir), red cell transfusion during hospitalization were noted. Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) was computed as a summary measure of medical comorbidities. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to determine risk-adjusted odds of unfavorable outcome, defined as a modified Rankin Score of > 2. Results: Anemia was present on hospital admission in 31% of patients. Forty five percent of patients had unfavorable outcome. In the univariable analysis increasing age, admission National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), CCI, nadir hemoglobin, delta hemoglobin and blood transfusion were associated with unfavorable outcome. In the multivariable model, only increasing age, CCI and NIHSS remained associated with unfavorable outcome. No quadratic association was found on repeating the model to identify a possible U-shaped relationship of hemoglobin with outcome. Conclusions: Our findings contradict prior observational studies and highlight an area of clinical equipoise regarding the optimal management of anemia in patients hospitalized for ischemic stroke. This uncertainty could be addressed with appropriately designed clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number78
JournalBMC Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anemia
  • Charlson comorbidity index
  • Disability
  • Hemoglobin
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Mortality
  • Transfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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