Transfusion practice and outcomes in non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndromes

Karen P. Alexander, Anita Y. Chen, Tracy Y. Wang, Sunil V. Rao, L. Kristin Newby, Nancy M.Allen LaPointe, E. Magnus Ohman, Matthew T. Roe, William E. Boden, Robert A. Harrington, Eric D. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Objectives: To describe the association between transfusion and outcomes as a function of nadir hematocrit (HCT) in patients with non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndromes (NSTE ACS). Background: The adverse outcomes associated with transfusion in NSTE ACS is uncertain and may vary by nadir HCT of the transfused. Methods: Using data from 44 242 patients with NSTE ACS in 400 US hospitals in the CRUSADE initiative (January 2004-December 2005), we describe blood transfusion as a function of nadir HCT and associated outcomes across nadir HCT groups (≤24%, 24.1%-27%, 27.1%-30%, >30%). We further explore patient and process variation across hospital quartiles defined by transfusion use. Results: Overall, 22.2% of patients with NSTE ACS are anemic and 10.4% receive a blood transfusion during their care. Likelihood of transfusion rose from 1% when nadir HCT was >30% to 70% when nadir HCT was ≤24%. The threshold for transfusion is a median nadir HCT of 25.7% (interquartile range 23.8%-27.5%). Although nadir HCT of transfused remains constant across quartiles of transfusion use, occurrence of bleeding increases. Inhospital mortality is higher in lower nadir HCT groups. In those with a nadir HCT of ≤24%, transfusion tended to have a beneficial impact on mortality (HCT ≤24% adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.68 [0.45-1.02]). In the median range where transfusion occurs, transfusion had a neutral impact on mortality (HCT 24%-27% adjusted OR 1.01 [0.79-1.30]). Although rare, those transfused with nadir HCT of 27% to 30% (adjusted OR 1.18 [0.92-1.50]) or HCT of >30% (adjusted OR 3.47 [2.30-5.23]) had higher mortality. Conclusion: Anemia and transfusion are common in the care of NSTE ACS. The observed association between transfusion and adverse outcomes is neutral in the nadir HCT range where transfusions are most often given and trends strongly to benefit when nadir HCT is ≤24%. Although reassuring, randomized trials are needed to confirm the safety of transfusion in NSTE ACS. In the meantime, avoiding the need for transfusion is the best approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1047-1053
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican heart journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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