-- Randy Dotinga
THURSDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- New research links medical
problems caused by blood transfusion to the breakdown of red blood
cells during blood storage. The findings suggest that a better way
to store blood is needed.
When transfused, older blood or high amounts of blood can lead
to complications, including infection, kidney and lung failure and
death, said study co-author Dr. Mark T. Gladwin in a news release
from Wake Forest University, which led the study.
The study examines the interaction between nitric oxide (NO) and
the byproducts created as red blood cells break down over time. The
researchers found that the interaction in older blood can reduce
blood flow and perhaps damage tissues in the body.
"When blood sits for a while, some of the cells break down and release their contents, which include molecules of hemoglobin and red blood cell microparticles," said Gladwin, chief of the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "These accumulate in the stored bag of blood and are transfused into the patient with the blood. In the bloodstream, the hemoglobin and microparticles bind to and destroy [nitric oxide], a very important molecule that is used by the body to keep blood vessels dilated for normal blood flow."
"Transfusion of stored blood is one of the most common medical therapies," said study senior author Daniel B. Kim-Shapiro, professor of physics and director of the Translational Science Center at Wake Forest University, in the news release. "For example, perhaps we can restore nitric oxide activity that is lost upon transfusion, use preservation solutions that better limit the degradation of blood cells, or develop agents that scavenge free hemoglobin."
Future studies will examine the safety of blood stored more than
14 days. Under current federal guidelines, blood can be stored for
up to 42 days.
Each year in the United States more than 5 million people
receive blood transfusions, according to the study.
The study is published in the journal
For more on
blood donations, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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