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Sep 07, 2012

Does Blood Type Affect Heart Health?

Blood type not linked to cardiovascular risk.

Identifying risk factors for heart disease is extremely important for heart health. By knowing what factors increase risk for heart disease, like high blood pressure, we can then test patients to see who is at risk and take action to reduce any risk factors they may have. So it’s no surprise that researchers are interested in the impact that blood type might have on cardiovascular risk. Could certain blood types put us at greater risk for heart disease? Or could certain blood types actually help protect us against it?

According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Cardiology, there is no clear link between blood type and cardiovascular risk. Researchers followed more than 2,000 Iranian patients with heart disease and found that cardiovascular risk did not significantly differ when it came to blood type. So whether a patient was type A, B, AB or O, their risk for heart disease was the same. But a number of studies have shown otherwise, and most findings are conflicting.

So what’s the take home message when it comes to blood type and heart health? There’s no clear evidence that shows that blood type impacts cardiovascular risk, so patients should continue to focus on the risk factors that they can control, like weight, diet, physical activity, blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking status. By working on the risk factors that we can control, we can help greatly reduce risk for heart disease and improve our heart health. And although blood type may not be closely related to heart health, it’s still good to know what your blood type is. So if you’re not sure, ask your doctor at your next appointment and brush up on the different blood types on the American Red Cross website (http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-types). 

Questions for You to Consider

  • What are blood types?

  • Although all blood is made of the same things, there are four major blood groups – Group A, B, AB and O. These groups differ by the presence or absence of antigens, which trigger immune responses. When it comes to blood transfusions, only certain types of blood can be matched safely.

  • Why is it important to know your blood type?

  • Blood type is especially important in emergency situations where a patient has lost blood and requires a blood transfusion. Only certain blood types can be safely matched together, so doctors need to know a patient’s blood type before going through with a transfusion. It’s also possible that blood type may play some role in our health, but exactly how blood type impacts our health is not fully understood.

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