You must have heard this question in your life: What is your blood type? We all have one, and if you’re not sure what yours is, there’s a great reason to find out: Science suggests that our blood type can make a difference..
You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but what goes through your veins every second of every day are the tiny variations that separate your blood into one of the following groups: A+, A-, B+, B-, O-, O+, AB+, and AB-. If you haven’t given blood, received a transfusion, or been pregnant, you’ve probably never thought twice about your blood type and what it means to your health.
Knowing your blood type is not only important in an emergency, but also offers some important insights into your health. Ongoing research on blood type suggests that it may be more important than we’ve been led to believe — at least in some health risk assessments, especially. These subtle differences in blood may give some people an advantage in preventing cardiovascular problems and make others more susceptible.
What is blood type and how are they different?
The letters A, B, and O represent different forms of the ABO gene, which program our blood cells differently to create different blood types. For example, if you have type AB blood, your body is programmed to produce antigens A and B on red blood cells. A person with a blood type does not produce antigens.
Blood is said to be “positive” or “negative” depending on the presence of proteins in the red blood cells. If you have proteins in your blood, you are Rhesus, or Rh, positive.
People with type O blood are considered “universal donors” because their blood contains no antigens or proteins, meaning that anyone’s body can accept it in an emergency.
But why are there different blood types? Researchers don’t know for sure, but factors such as where someone’s ancestors are from and past infections that trigger protective mutations in the blood may contribute to the diversity, Dr. Douglas Guggenheim, a hematologist at Penn Medicine. People with type O blood are more likely to get cholera, while people with type A or B blood are more likely to have problems with blood clotting. Although our blood cannot deal with any biological or viral threats circulating in real time, it can reflect past events.
“In short, the body seems to have evolved around the environment to protect itself as best as possible,” Guggenheim said.
The most dangerous blood groups for heart disease
According to the American Heart Association, people with blood type A, B, or AB are more likely to have a heart attack or heart attack than people with blood type O.
Although the increased risk is small (in one large study, types A or B had an 8% increased risk of heart attack and a 10% increased risk of heart failure), the difference in blood clotting rates is much greater according to the AHA. In the same study, people with blood types A and B were 51% more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis and 47% more likely to develop pulmonary embolism, a serious blood clotting disorder that also increases the risk of heart failure.
According to Guggenheim, the reason for this increased risk may be related to the inflammation that occurs in the body of people with blood types A, B or AB. Proteins in the A and B blood types can cause more “clogging” or “clogginess” in the veins and arteries, which increases the risk of blood clots and heart disease.
Guggenheim also thinks it may describe an anecdotal (but currently inconclusive) reduction in the risk of severe COVID-19 disease in people with type O blood, which inspired the study. Severe COVID-19 disease often causes heart problems, blood clots, and other cardiovascular problems.
Other effects of blood type
People with type O blood may have a slightly reduced risk of heart disease and blood clotting, but they may be more prone to bleeding or bleeding disorders. According to research on postpartum blood loss, this can happen especially after childbirth, which increases the risk for women with type O blood.
According to a study published in the journal Critical Care, people with blood type O may worsen due to increased blood loss after a traumatic injury.
Other studies have shown that people with type AB blood may have a higher risk of cognitive impairment compared to people with type O. Cognitive impairment involves things like remembering, paying attention, or making decisions.
Do I have to change my lifestyle based on my blood type?
Research shows that blood type can increase someone’s risk of heart disease, but bigger factors like diet, exercise, or the level of pollution in your community are major players in determining heart disease. health.
Guggenheim says there is no specific recommendation for patients trying to keep their heart healthy, regardless of one’s blood type, other than a heart-healthy diet that reduces inflammation.
However, he noted, future research could suggest more specific ways to treat patients based on their blood type. All factors considered equal, patients with healthy cholesterol levels and blood type A may benefit from daily aspirin, while a person with blood type O in the same boat may not need it.
“In general, a well-balanced, heart-healthy diet is what every doctor recommends, and I would say ABO doesn’t change that,” Guggenheim said.
“I don’t think there’s any protective benefit to having blood type O, which contributes to being scot-free,” he said.
More for your health
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.