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Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

Year: 2010  |  Volume: 5  |  Issue: 4  |  Page No.: 667 - 672

Transfusion Burden among Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease and Anemia

E. V Lawler, B. D Bradbury, J. R Fonda, J. M Gaziano and D. R. Gagnon

Abstract

Background and objectives: Although well-described for patients who require dialysis, information on transfusion burden related to anemia in the nondialysis patient population with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is lacking.

Design, settings, participants, & measurements: A retrospective study was conducted of patients with CKD and chronic anemia from 2002 through 2007 in the Veterans Administration Healthcare System. Included patients had stage 3 CKD or higher and anemia (one or more hemoglobin [Hb] levels <11 g/dl or received anemia therapy [erythropoiesis-stimulating agents [ESAs], iron, or both]). The outcome of interest was transfusion events, which was evaluated in relation to the absolute Hb level and changes in Hb levels overall and according to the type of treatment received (no treatment, iron therapy, ESA therapy, or ESA and iron therapy) concurrent with each Hb measurement.

Results: Among 97,636 patients with CKD and anemia, we observed 68,556 transfusion events (61 events per 100 person-years), 86.6% of which occurred in inpatient settings. At all Hb levels, transfusion events were highest during periods of no treatment and increased with declining Hb levels. Between an Hb of 10.0 and 10.9 g/dl, the transfusion rate was 2.0% for those who received an ESA, iron, or both and 22% for those who received no treatment; at an Hb level of 7.0 to 7.9 g/dl, the transfusion rate was 10 to 12% for treated and 58% for untreated patients. Low absolute Hb levels but not Hb changes was most predictive of a transfusion even after adjustment for patient case mix.

Conclusions: Transfusions are still used to treat anemia in patients who have CKD and do not require dialysis, although they occur considerably less frequently in patients who receive other available anemia therapies.

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