Donation by donors with an atypical pulse rate does not increase the risk of cardiac ischaemic events


Marc Germain, MD, FRCP(C), PhD, Vice-president, Medical Affairs, Héma-Québec, 1070, Sciences-de-la-Vie Avenue, Québec, QC G1V 5C3, Canada


Background and Objectives  In many jurisdictions, blood donors who have an atypical pulse rate are temporarily deferred. This practice is not supported by evidence. We evaluated whether accepting donors with an atypical pulse rate increases their risk of cardiac ischaemic events.

Methods  We measured the cumulative incidence of hospitalizations and deaths for coronary heart disease within 1 year of follow-up among donors who, between 2002 and 2006, were temporarily deferred because of an atypical pulse (<50 beats/min, >100 beats/min, or irregular). We compared this incidence to that observed among donors who also had an atypical pulse but who were allowed to donate, following a change in our deferral policy in 2007. The occurrence of cardiac events was determined through hospital discharge and death registries.

Results  Among 6076 donors who were temporarily deferred for an atypical pulse, the 1-year rate of hospitalization or death for cardiac ischaemic events was 3·5/1000, compared to 2·4 in donors who had an atypical pulse but who were allowed to donate (n = 10 671), for an adjusted odds ratio of 1·7 (95% CI, 0·9–3·0, P = 0·08).

Conclusion  Regardless of the clinical significance of an atypical pulse rate, our data show that accepting donors with this condition does not increase the occurrence of serious cardiac ischaemic events. We conclude that pulse rate measurement in prospective donors is not warranted.