Harvard Heart Letter

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

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These days, people undergoing routine openheart surgery usually don't need a blood transfusion. Improved ways to minimize blood loss have driven this trend.

Cardiac surgeons can take steps to avoid the need for a transfusion.

If you or a loved one is facing open-heart surgery, you may well wonder whether a blood transfusion will be necessary. Compared with a decade ago, blood transfusions are now far less common during or after heart surgery. That's partly due to improved techniques, as well as a better understanding of the potential risks versus the benefits of receiving banked blood.

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