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No difference in long-term mortality found when investigators tested two blood transfusion methods in severely injured trauma patients

One method helped reduce risk of dying from bleeding in first 24 hours

Embargoed for Release:
February 3, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

WHAT: When it comes to treating patients with severe injuries and major blood loss, researchers found no significant difference in mortality rates when comparing two widely-used transfusion strategies. The findings appear online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The best ratio of blood components given to severe trauma patients has been a long-standing question in the emergency care community. In severely injured and bleeding trauma patients, blood transfusions usually are composed of three components: platelets, plasma and red blood cells. The large study, which involved 680 severely-injured participants, compared using a ratio of one unit of platelets, one unit of plasma and one unit of red blood cells (1:1:1) to one unit of platelets, one unit of plasma and two units of red blood cells (1:1:2).

Investigators found similar mortality rates at 24 hours and at 30 days between the two ratios. However, researchers also concluded that fewer study participants receiving the 1:1:1 ratio died from exsanguination, which is death from blood loss.

Some earlier studies raised concerns about the risk of inflammation for patients receiving large amounts of blood products containing plasma. The 1:1:2 ratio was developed to lessen the amount of plasma needed, but it was unclear this method was the optimal option. But the new study found no adverse outcomes for patients who received increased amounts of plasma using the 1:1:1 ratio.

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center led more than a dozen centers to conduct the study. Funding for this work came from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (U01HL077863), the U.S. Department of Defense, and Defence Research and Development Canada. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research also supported the work. Some research was conducted using the NHLBI-funded Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium study sites.

WHO:   Gail Pearson, M.D., Sc.D., Director, Adult and Pediatric Cardiac Research Program, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the NHLBI

CONTACT: For more information or to schedule an interview with Dr. Pearson, please contact the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236 or nhlbi_news@nhlbi.nih.gov (link sends e-mail)