The benefit of red blood cell (RBC) transfusion in anemic critically-ill patients with cardiovascular disease is uncertain, as is the optimal threshold at which RBC transfusion should be considered. We sought to examine the association between RBC transfusion and mortality stratified by nadir Hgb level and admission diagnosis among cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) patients.
Retrospective single-center cohort of 11,754 CICU patients admitted between 2007 and 2018. The association between RBC transfusion and hospital mortality at each nadir Hgb (<8 g/dL, 8-9.9 g/dL, ≥10 g/dL) was assessed using multivariable logistic regression adjusted for the propensity to receive RBC transfusion.
The study population had a mean age of 68±15 years, including 38% females; 1,134 (11.4%) received RBC transfusion. Admission diagnoses included: acute coronary syndrome (ACS), 42%; heart failure, 50%; cardiac arrest (CA), 12%; and cardiogenic shock (CS), 12%. Patients who received RBC transfusion had higher crude hospital mortality (19% vs. 8%, p <0.001). RBC transfusion was associated with lower adjusted hospital mortality in patients with nadir Hgb <8 g/dL after propensity adjustment, including subgroups with ACS, CA, or CS (all p <0.01). RBC transfusion was not associated with lower adjusted hospital mortality in any subgroup of patients with nadir Hgb ≥8 g/dL.
These observational data suggest the use of a Hgb threshold <8 g/dL for RBC transfusion in most CICU patients, although we could not exclude a potential benefit of RBC transfusion at a nadir Hgb of 8-9.9 g/dL; we did not observe any benefit from RBC transfusion at a nadir Hgb ≥10 g/dL.