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Sustained postoperative anaemia is associated with an impaired outcome after coronary artery bypass graft surgery: insights from the IMAGINE trial
  1. B Daan Westenbrink1,
  2. Lennaert Kleijn1,
  3. Rudolf A de Boer1,
  4. Jan G Tijssen2,
  5. Wayne J Warnica3,
  6. Richard Baillot4,
  7. Jean L Rouleau5,
  8. Wiek H van Gilst1,
  9. for the IMAGINE Investigators
  1. 1Department of Cardiology, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  2. 2Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3Foothills Hospital, University of Calgary, Canada
  4. 4Hospital Laval, Laval University, Canada
  5. 5Institut de Cardiologie de Montreal, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada
  1. Correspondence to B D Westenbrink, Department of Cardiology, Thoraxcenter, University Medical Center Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, P O Box 30001, Groningen 9700 RB, The Netherlands; b.d.westenbrink{at}


Objective To investigate the association between sustained postoperative anaemia and outcome after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.

Design Retrospective analysis of the IMAGINE trial, which tested the effect of the ACE inhibitor quinapril on cardiovascular events after CABG.

Setting Thoracic surgery clinic/outpatient department.

Patients 2553 stable patients with left ventricular ejection fraction >40% 2–7 days after scheduled CABG.

Interventions Randomisation to quinapril or placebo.

Main outcome measures Cox regression analysis for the association between postoperative anaemia and cardiovascular events and the effect of quinapril on the incidence of anaemia.

Results Postoperative anaemia was sustained for >50 days in 44% of patients. Sustained postoperative anaemia was associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular events during the first 3 months (adjusted HR (adjHR) 1.77, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.85, p=0.012) and during the maximum follow-up of 43 months (adjHR 1.37, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.65, p=0.008). When haemoglobin (Hb) was considered as a continuous variable, every 1 mg/dl decrease in Hb was associated with a 13% increase in cardiovascular events (adjHR 0.87, 95% CI 0.81 to 0.95, p=0.003) and a 22% increase in all-cause mortality (adjHR 0.78, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.99, p=0.034). Quinapril was associated with a slower postoperative recovery of Hb levels and a higher incidence of cardiovascular events in patients with anaemia (adjHR 1.60, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.4, p=0.024).

Conclusions Postoperative anaemia is common, frequently persists for months after CABG surgery and is associated with an impaired outcome. In patients with anaemia, ACE inhibitors slowed recovery from postoperative anaemia and increased the incidence of cardiovascular events after CABG.

  • Coronary artery bypass graft
  • anaemia
  • outcome
  • ACE inhibitor
  • cardiac remodelling
  • endothelial function
  • heart failure treatment
  • transfusion
  • haemodynamics
  • heart failure
  • EBM
  • stable angina
  • coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • echocardiography
  • LV dysfunction
  • exercise physiology
  • angiotensin converting enzyme
  • surgery-coronary bypass
  • stable angina

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  • Funding The IMAGINE trial was supported by Pfizer Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium and France. No industrial funding was provided for the present analysis.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from the institutional review boards of all the participating centres.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.