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February 2014 • Published in The Daily Press, Ashland WI

Q: How is donated blood used to treat people with heart disease?

A. Heart surgery, especially open heart surgery requiring bypass, is one of the larger indications for blood use at many hospitals. While a typical procedure may only use 2 units, some patients may require six units or more of blood products. Cardiac transplants use even more.

As noted by the American Heart Association (AHA), the good news is that death rates related to these diseases continue to fall. This reflects both lower incidence of early heart disease reflecting the falling rates of smoking in the US and better care of those who do develop heart conditions. However, the total number of inpatient cardiovascular operations and procedures continue to rise, as procedures are now offered to more elderly patients. The AHA’s 2014 Update reports that nearly 7 million cardiovascular operations and procedures were performed in 2010 (the most recent year of reported data), a 28% increase from 2000.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States for adults of all races. However, there are big differences in the rates of heart disease and stroke across different racial and ethnic groups. Some minority groups are more likely to be affected by heart disease and stroke than others—which contributes to lower life expectancy found among minorities. High blood pressure is a contributor to both heart disease and stroke; one of the benefits of blood donation is the “mini-physical” during which staff checks your blood pressure.

During the month of February, designated in 1963 as American Heart Month, we encourage all those eligible to make a blood donation in honor of a loved one touched by heart disease. So please help us spread awareness this month. Plan now to donate and help meet the demand at Ashland’s Memorial Medical Center and other area hospitals for the blood needed to save lives.

Additional upcoming opportunities to donate in the Ashland area include:
Friday, February 28, 2014
Essentia Health-Ashland Clinic
1625 Maple Lane
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Schedule your appointment online at MBC.ORG/searchdrives
Sponsor Code: 4103
Or contact Vicki Galik @ (715) 685-7500

Jed Gorlin, M.D. is Medical Director and Vice President, Medical and Quality Affairs for Memorial Blood Centers. Elizabeth Perry, M.D. is Associate Medical Director for Memorial Blood Centers.

Send us your questions. Call us today 1-888-GIVE-BLD (888-448-3253) to schedule an appointment, or to find out more about Memorial Blood Centers and how we partner with the Ashland community to save lives. Learn more at About Us.