Harvard Heart Letter

Blood transfusions for heart surgery: Less necessary than in the past

Blood transfusions during or after heart surgery are less common than in years past, thanks to advances in blood conservation techniques. Also, having too few red cells or hemoglobin (anemia) after surgery is less worrisome than once believed, lowering the need for transfusions. New evidence about the risks associated with transfusions, which may include more infections and a higher risk of certain heart problems, also play a role. People slated for open-heart surgery should ask their surgeons about what can be done to minimize their need for a transfusion. 
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