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Experts warn unnecessary platelet transfusion can harm patients

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New Delhi: Unnecessary platelet transfusion causes “harm” and puts dengue patients “at risk” of developing complications such as sepsis, say health experts.

The national capital is grappling with rising cases of the vector-borne disease in the city, which has claimed at least 19 lives and affected over 1,300 people.

In dengue patients, platelet count registers a fall, and if it is not replenished, it may lead to fatality.

“It is crucial that the public is educated about the fact that platelet transfusion is not the only solution and is not required in most of the dengue cases,” cardiologist and President-elect of Indian Medical Association, Dr KK Aggarwal said.

Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and IMA today jointly held a webcast on the subject of platelet transfusion.

Platelet is one of the major components of blood that is affected by dengue and its normal value is between 1.5 to 4.5 lakh.

Addressing the webcast, Dr NK Bhatia, Medical Director Mission Jan Jagruti Blood Bank said, “Unnecessary transfusion causes more harm and puts the patient at risk of complications such as sepsis, transfusion-related acute lung injury, transfusion associated circulatory overload, alloimmunisation and allergic and anaphylactic transfusion reactions.”

“Transfusion must only be done if a person’s platelet count is less than 10,000, and he or she has active bleeding,” he said. Platelet count of 20,000 and below can cause bleeding complications as in cases of dengue haemmorrhagic fever. Mr Aggarwal, also, president of HCFI, said a majority of people are not aware that most dengue cases are “preventable and manageable”.

“The risk of complications is less than 1 per cent of dengue cases and if the public knows warning signals, all deaths from dengue can be avoided. It is, however, a myth that all dengue patients require platelet transfusion,” he was quoted as saying in a statement.

Mr Aggrawal also claimed that “platelet counts acquired by machine readings are not reliable, and a discrepancy of up to 40,000 can be found.”

Recently, a first of its kind clinical study had claimed that platelet transfusion may not be needed or deferred for patients suffering from “severe dengue” if the percentage of young regenerated platelets in the blood is above or equal to a cut-off mark.

The study was conducted by the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here on 50 adult dengue patients having a platelet count of less than 100000/cu mm, who were admitted there last year.

The typical symptoms of dengue are fever, vomiting, headache, nausea, pain behind the eyes and severe joint and muscle pain.

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