Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Banked blood may be missing an important link

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After just one day in storage, donated blood becomes significantly depleted of its nitric oxide. This is a potential problem, say researchers, because nitric oxide is necessary to open blood vessels and deliver oxygen to healthy tissues. Though it's currently only a theory, experts think that the reason that those who have been given donated blood are at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke is because of the depletion of this important component. They're currently testing ways to get nitric oxide back into stored blood at appropriate levels.

They stress, however, that this finding doesn't mean you should be afraid to receive donated blood or to donate it. In fact, 4.8 million Americans received donated blood last year, and one researcher called our supply of banked blood "a national treasure." But this does mean that scientists will be busy trying to make our blood supply even safer for those who need it.

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