Impact of Anemia Severity on the Outcome of an Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Objective: Previous reports indicate a negative impact of anemia on the outcome of an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). We aimed to identify the outcome-relevant severity of post-SAH anemia.

Methods: SAH cases treated at our institution between 01/2005 and 06/2016 were included (n = 640). The onset, duration, and severity (nadir hemoglobin (nHB) level) of anemia during the initial hospital stay were recorded. Study endpoints were new cerebral infarctions, a poor outcome six months post-SAH (modified Rankin scale > 3), and in-hospital mortality. To assess independent associations with the study endpoints, different multivariable regression models were performed, adjusted for relevant patient and baseline SAH characteristics as well as anemia-associated clinical events during the SAH.

Results: The rates of anemia were 83.3%, 67.7%, 40.0%, 15.9%, and 4.5% for an nHB < 11 g/dL, < 10 g/dL, < 9 g/dL, < 8 g/dL, and < 7 g/dL, respectively. The higher the anemia severity, the later was the onset (post-SAH days 2, 4, 5.4, 7.6 and 8, p < 0.0001) and the shorter the duration (8 days, 6 days, 4 days, 3 days, and 2 days, p < 0.0001) of anemia. In the final multivariable analysis, only an nHB < 9 g/dL was independently associated with all study endpoints: adjusted odds ratio 1.7/3.22/2.44 for cerebral infarctions/in-hospital mortality/poor outcome. The timing (post-SAH day 3.9 vs. 6, p = 0.001) and duration (3 vs. 5 days, p = 0.041) of anemia with an nHB < 9 g/dL showed inverse associations with the risk of in-hospital mortality, but not with other study endpoints.

Conclusions: Anemia is very common in SAH patients affecting four of five individuals during their hospital stay. An nHB decline to < 9 g/dL was strongly associated with all study endpoints, independent of baseline characteristics and SAH-related clinical events. Our data encourage further prospective evaluations of the value of different transfusion strategies in the functional outcomes of SAH patients.


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