'Battlefield' Blood Transfusion Deemed More Beneficial

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'Battlefield' Blood Transfusion
'Battlefield' Blood Transfusion

(HealthDay News) — A blood transfusion containing equal parts plasma, platelets, and red blood cells is the most effective treatment for someone who is in immediate danger of exsanguination, compared to a blood mix containing a larger amount of red blood cells, according to research published in the February 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In a clinical trial at 12 North American trauma centers, doctors randomly assigned 680 severely injured patients requiring a massive transfusion to either get the traditional red blood cell-heavy mix or the new equal-parts formula.

The new formula reduced a person's immediate risk of exsanguination, researchers found. Extensive blood loss was significantly decreased in the group receiving the new mix, and doctors were able to halt bleeding in patients who received the even blend. There also appeared to be no major safety concerns stemming from the new blend, the researchers reported. However, there was no significant difference in overall death at 24 hours or at 30 days between the two transfusion strategy groups.

The U.S. Department of Defense developed the recipe to save wounded soldiers' lives, and made it part of its clinical practice guidelines in 2004, study author John Holcomb, MD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, told HealthDay. While many major U.S. trauma centers have adopted the new blood recipe, this is the first clinical trial to compare its effectiveness in saving lives to the type of transfusion that previously had been most widely used, Holcomb said.

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