Background: Although essential for the evaluation of blood transfusion safety, the prevalence of blood transfusion in the general population is not presently known. This study estimated the exposure to blood transfusion in the general Scandinavian population.
Study design and methods: Population-based registry data of more than 600,000 transfusion recipients and general population data from 2000 to 2002 in Denmark and 1996 to 2002 in Sweden were reviewed. Outcome measures were the unit exposure rate, the 1-year period prevalence, the incidence rate, and the prevalence of exposure to blood transfusion.
Results: The unit exposure rate was 71.9 per 1000 population per year in Denmark and 60.9 in Sweden, corresponding to 29 percent more blood units being transfused in Denmark than in Sweden. The 1-year period prevalence was 8.8 and the incidence rate was 7.2 per 1000 population per year in Denmark, being 37 and 25 percent higher than in Sweden, respectively. The prevalences of blood transfusion in Danish males at 20, 40, 60, and 80 years of age were 1.9, 3.1, 7.6, and 18.1 percent, respectively. In Danish females, the corresponding prevalences were 1.6, 5.9, 11.1, and 20.5 percent. A similar but slightly lower prevalence was found in Sweden.
Conclusion: Exposure to blood transfusion is frequent in Denmark and Sweden. At age 80 years, approximately one in five persons in the general population had received blood at least once.