Increased red blood cell distribution width (RDW) has been associated with adverse outcomes in heart failure and stable coronary disease. We studied the association between baseline RDW and changes in RDW during hospital course with clinical outcomes in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Baseline RDW and RDW change during hospital course were determined in 1,709 patients with AMI who were followed for a median of 27 months (range 6 to 48). The relation between RDW and clinical outcomes after hospital discharge were tested using Cox regression models, adjusting for clinical variables, baseline hemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume, and left ventricular ejection fraction. Compared to patients in the first RDW quintile, the adjusted hazard ratios for death progressively increased with higher quintiles of RDW (second quintile 1.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.6 to 2.1; third quintile 1.8, 95% CI 1.0 to 3.2; fourth quintile 2.0, 95% CI 1.1 to 3.4; fifth quintile 2.8, 95% CI 1.6 to 4.7, p for trend <0.0001). An increase in RDW during hospital course was also associated with subsequent mortality (adjusted hazard ratio 1.13 for 1-SD increase in RDW, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.25). Similar results were obtained for the end point of heart failure. The association between increased RDW and worse outcome was evident in patients with and without anemia. In conclusion, there is a graded, independent association between increased RDW and mortality after AMI. An increase in RDW during hospitalization also portends adverse clinical outcome.
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