The Blood Matters Blog ·

Holding Back Transfusions May Harm Some Heart Attack Patients, Study Suggests

Findings from an expansive study published in the New England Journal of Medicine provide some compelling data points supporting the use of a liberal blood transfusion strategy for heart attack patients with anemia.


A recent scientific study suggests that more generous transfusion practices to correct anemia (low red blood cell levels) for heart attack patients may produce better health outcomes.

The Myocardial Ischemia and Transfusion (MINT) trial, conducted between 2017 and 2023, compared two transfusion strategies among 3,500 participants across 144 hospitals and six countries, making it the largest study of its kind to date.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the results of the multi-national trial showed that the half of participants given a generous level of red blood cells – enough to keep their blood count greater than 10 grams per deciliter – tended to have improved care results over the study's other half of participants, who didn’t receive a transfusion unless their blood count dipped below 8 grams per deciliter. Typically, a healthy adult's blood count, or hemoglobin level, ranges between 12 to 17 grams per deciliter.

Specifically, the death rates (8.3% versus 9.9%) and subsequent heart attack risk (7.2% vs. 8.5%) were better among those who received more transfusions. In a press release from The American Heart Association, Dr. Jeffrey Carson, the study’s lead author, said “the results suggest the possibility of liberal transfusion benefits without undue risk.”

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