(HealthDay News) — Receiving a blood transfusion during coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery may raise a patient’s risk of pneumonia, researchers report. The findings were to be presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, held from January 24–28 in San Diego.
The researchers looked at data on 16,182 patients who underwent CABG. The surgeries took place at 33 U.S. hospitals between 2011–2013. Of the surgical patients, 39.9% received red blood cell transfusions. Just under 4% of the entire group developed pneumonia (3.6%).
People given one or two units of red blood cells were twice as likely to develop pneumonia compared to those who didn’t receive blood transfusions. Those who received six units or more were 14 times more likely to develop pneumonia, the researchers found.
Study leader Donald Likosky, PhD, from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, explained in a news release: “Previous research has shown that one in every 20 CABG patients develop a major infection, with pneumonia being the most common type of infection,” Likosky said. “Patients should receive red blood cell transfusions based on clinical need. Surgical teams may have opportunities to reduce the need for transfusions among patients, thereby reducing the risk of secondary complications.”