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Monday, October 08, 2007

Science - Stored Blood Low In Nitric Oxide

For years, health professionals have noted worriedly that blood transfusions can be followed by heart attacks in some patients, and now scientists might know why. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, nitric oxide in stored blood begins breaking down almost immediately after blood is drawn.
"It doesn't matter how much oxygen is being carried by red blood cells, it cannot get to the tissues that need it without nitric oxide," said Dr. Jonathan Stamler of Duke University, leader of one of the research groups.

Blood vessels relax and constrict to regulate blood flow and nitric oxide opens up blood vessels, allowing red blood cells to deliver oxygen, he explained.

"If the blood vessels cannot open, the red blood cells back up in the vessel and tissues go without oxygen. The result can be a heart attack or even death," he said.
Disclaimer: the good doctor and some of his colleagues have relationships with a company that is manufacturing nitric oxide-based therapies. Further disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be construed to indicate that you should refuse a blood transfusion if your medical professional recommends one. If you urgently need blood, you are not in a position to weigh the hypothetical likelihood of a heart attack against the near-certainty of death by loss of blood.

Pointer and additional disclaimer: I found the article in question on Yahoo, but don't like pointing to their site, as they "disappear" their stories at some unannounced point, and you're left staring at a link rot.

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