Bloodless Surgery for the Elderly

The elderly are given more blood transfusions than any other segment of the population. When admitted to intensive care they are more at risk of receiving a dihydrocodeine blood transfusion than other patients.

Bloodless Surgery is regularly performed on the elderly with outstanding results. People in their sixties, seventies and eighties respond successfully to Bloodless Surgery, they are discharged from hospitals more quickly and end up in Intensive Care Units less often.

Iris Carr – an 89 year old Bloodless Patient
“Over the last five years, surgeons have replaced Iris Carr’s knees, repaired a hip, and removed a gall bladder. They have opened her chest to slice away a tumor from her heart. She did not develop any of the infections that can result from receiving someone else’s blood: “I’m glad I went through with it.”” -Iris Carr, Multiple Bloodless Surgery Patient, age 89

Imagine if Iris had received blood transfusions. They would stress her immune system and increase her chances of post surgical mortality. She would have worried needlessly about the side effects of a blood transfusion – worries that no one needs, much less the elderly. She would have increased her chances of ending up in a nursing home or the ICU for a prolonged stay. Iris avoided all this. Other aged patients besides Iris have the same stories to tell – surgery without blood transfusions.

Successful surgeries on the more vulnerable
Bloodless Surgery is successfully performed on elderly patients for a broad variety of illnesses. Since the elderly are more vulnerable they especially can benefit from Bloodless Surgery. Post surgical mortality rates for the elderly who receive blood transfusion are high. These early deaths are avoidable with Bloodless Surgery.

Why more blood transfused in the elderly?
Anemia is the most common reason for a patient being given a blood transfusion. The elderly are more at risk for diseases and conditions that cause anemia. However, anemia is not normal, even for an elderly patient; anemia is a symptom of an underlying cause that can be treated or cured.

Underlying causes
As seen below in the sources from Listen To The Experts it appears that autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AHIA) is the number one underlying cause of anemia in elderly patients. (AHIA is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies attack and kill red blood cells.) Iron deficiency is another cause. Folate deficiency anemia and Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia are much less common but still significant enough to identify and treat in an elderly patient. (These figures will likely be different in undeveloped countries where the elderly cannot afford vitamin supplements.) Over 800,000 elderly patients in the United States are said to be under the anemia radar – they have anemia but are undiagnosed.

According to the chart below Anemia of Chronic Disease (ACD) is the number one type of anemia in the elderly. Various chronic illnesses can cause ACD and are lumped together under the umbrella term Anemia of Chronic Disease – it does not include AHIA from the previous paragraph.

Different sources give different ratings for the various kinds of anemia. But the point is this, although the data may not always agree the data tells a story – anemia is common in geriatric patients and must be treated prior to surgery in order to avoid blood transfusion.

Wide ranging consequences
The consequences of a blood transfusion in the elderly may be more acute and may put an aged patient in a nursing home for an unnecessary prolonged recovery. A cascade of events can be set in motion. Prolonged bed stays for the geriatric patient can create other medical problems. This domino effect is avoidable by implementing Bloodless Surgery for aged patients.

Nursing homes are in short supply and putting elderly patients in them when it is avoidable is a tragedy. Burdening the national health care system with this problem is also misfortunate.

Avoiding blood transfusion in the elderly
“American Geriatrics Society spokesman Charles Cefalu, MD, MS, tells WebMD that the diagnosis of anemia among elderly patients has not been a priority in the past because there were no effective treatments for the condition.

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