Don’t know your blood type yet? Here’s why you should find out

You have certainly heard this question at some point in your life: What is your blood type? We all have one, and if you’re not sure what your blood type is, there’s a good reason to know: Science suggests our blood type may make a difference when it comes to How healthy are our hearts?.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the surface, but tracking through your veins every second of every day are tiny differences that classify your blood into one of these groups: A+, A-, B+, B-, O-, O+, AB+ and AB -. Unless you’ve donated blood, had a blood transfusion or found out during pregnancy, you probably haven’t thought twice about your blood type and what that means for your health.

Not only can knowing your blood type be critical in an emergency situation, it can also provide some important insights into your health. Ongoing blood type research suggests that it may be more important than we give credit for — at least when evaluating the risks of certain health conditions, especially heart disease. These invisible differences in blood may give some people an advantage in avoiding cardiovascular problems, and may make others more susceptible to them.

Read also: How to check heart health at home without fancy equipment

What does blood type mean and how does it differ?

The letters A, B, and O represent different forms of the ABO gene, which programs our blood cells differently to form different blood groups. If you have type AB blood, for example, your body is programmed to produce A and B antigens on your red blood cells. A person with type O blood does not produce any antigens.

Blood is said to be “positive” or “negative” based on the presence of proteins in the red blood cells. If your blood contains proteins, you are Rhesus, or Rh, positive.

The ABO system is the best known method for classifying blood types.

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People with blood type O- are considered “universal donors” because their blood does not contain any antigens or proteins, which means that a person’s body would be able to accept it in an emergency situation.

But why are there different blood types? Researchers don’t know exactly, but factors such as where someone’s ancestors came from and previous infections that prompted protective mutations in the blood may have contributed to this diversity, according to Dr. Douglas Guggenheim, a hematologist at Penn Medicine. People with type O blood may develop cholera, for example, while people with type A or B blood may be more likely to have blood clotting problems. While our blood cannot keep up with the various biological or viral threats that occur in real time, it may reflect what happened in the past.

“In short, it is as if the body has evolved around its environment in order to protect it as best it can,” Guggenheim said.

The blood types most at risk of heart disease

Screens used during heart surgery

People with blood type O may be less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

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People with type A, type B, or type AB are more likely to have a heart attack or heart failure, according to the American Heart Association.

While the increased risk is small (types A or B had an 8% higher risk of heart attack and a 10% increased risk of heart failure, according to one large study), the difference in blood clotting rates is much higher, according to the AHA. People in the same study with type A and B blood were 51% more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis and 47% more likely to develop pulmonary embolism, severe blood clotting disorders that can also increase the risk of heart failure.

According to the Guggenheim, the reason for this increased risk may be related to the inflammation that occurs in the bodies of people with type A, type B, or type AB. Proteins in blood type A and B may cause more “blockages” or “thickness” in the veins and arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and clotting.

The Guggenheim also believes that this may describe the anecdotal (but currently inconclusive) decrease in risk of severe COVID-19 disease in people with type O blood, which is what inspired the research. Severe COVID-19 often causes heart problems, blood clots, and other cardiovascular problems.

Blood bag for blood transfusions
There are four main blood groups (blood types) – A, B, AB, and O.

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Other consequences of blood type

People with type O blood have a slightly lower risk of heart disease and blood clots, but they may be more likely to have bleeding or bleeding disorders. This may be especially true after childbirth, according to a study of postpartum blood loss, which found an increased risk in women with type O blood.

A study published in Critical Care showed that people with blood type O may also feel worse after a traumatic injury due to increased blood loss.

Other research has found that people with type AB blood may be more likely to develop cognitive impairment when compared to people with type O. Cognitive impairment includes things like difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions.

Should I change my lifestyle based on my blood type?

While the research now available shows that blood type can tip the scales regarding someone’s risk of heart disease, big factors such as diet, exercise or even the level of pollution you are exposed to in your community are the major players in determining the heart. health.

For patients trying to keep their heart healthy, Guggenheim says, there is no special recommendation for him other than to follow a heart-healthy diet that reduces inflammation, regardless of a person’s blood type.

Healthy foods arranged in the shape of a cartoon heart

Lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all part of a heart-healthy diet.

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But he notes that future research could offer more specific ways doctors treat patients based on their blood type. All factors are taken into account equally, a patient with healthy cholesterol and type A blood levels may benefit from taking an aspirin every day while it may not be necessary for someone in the same boat with type O blood.

“A balanced, heart-healthy diet in general would be what any doctor would recommend, and I would say ABO doesn’t change that,” Guggenheim said.

“I don’t think there is a protective benefit from just having type O blood that contributes to scarring,” he added.

More for your health

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to provide health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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