We all have one, and science suggests that our blood type may matter when it comes to it.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at the surface, but every second of your day passes through your veins, there are small variations that categorize your blood into one of these groups: A +, A-, B +, B-, O-, O +, AB + and AB-. Unless you have donated blood, transfused, or learned during pregnancy, you may have never thought about your blood type and what it means for your health.
Current blood type studies show that this may be more important than we attribute to it – at least when assessing the risk of certain health conditions, especially. These invisible differences in the blood can give some people an advantage in preventing cardiovascular problems and can make others more susceptible.
What does blood type mean and how do they differ?
The letters A, B and O represent different forms of the ABO gene, which program our blood cells differently to form different blood groups. If you have type AB blood, for example, your body is programmed to produce antigens A and B on red blood cells. A person with blood type O does not produce any antigens.
Blood is said to be “positive” or “negative” depending on whether there are proteins in red blood cells. If your blood has protein, you are Rhesus, or Rh, positive.
People with blood type O are considered “universal donors” because their blood does not have antigens or proteins, which means that everyone’s body will be able to accept it in an emergency.
But why are there different blood types? According to Dr. Douglas Guggenheim, a hematologist at Penn Medicine, scientists do not know completely, but factors such as where one’s ancestors came from and past infections that caused protective mutations in the blood may have contributed to the diversity. People with blood type O may get cholera, for example, while people with type A or B blood may be more likely to have blood clotting problems. Although our blood cannot cope with the various biological or viral threats that occur in real time, it can reflect what has happened in the past.
“In short, it’s almost as if the body has evolved around the environment to protect it as best it can,” Guggenheim said.
Blood types that are most at risk for heart disease
According to the American Heart Association, people with type A, type B, or AB blood are more likely than people with type O to have a heart attack or heart failure.
While the increased risk is low (type A or B has a combined 8% higher risk of heart attack and a 10% increased risk of heart failure, according to one large study), the difference in the rate of blood clotting is much higher, according to AHA. People in the same blood type A and B study were 51% more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis and 47% more likely to develop pulmonary embolism, which is a severe blood clotting disorder that may also increase the risk of heart failure.
According to the Guggenheim, the reason for this increased risk may be related to inflammation that occurs in the bodies of people with blood type A, type B or AB. Proteins present in the blood type A and type B can cause more “clogging” or “thickening” of the veins and arteries, leading to an increased risk of clotting and heart disease.
Guggenheim also believes that this may describe an anecdotal (but currently unconvincing) reduction in the risk of severe COVID-19 disease in people with blood type O, which inspired research. Severe COVID-19 disease often causes heart problems, blood clots and other cardiovascular problems.
Other effects on blood type
People with blood type O have a slightly lower risk of heart disease and blood clotting, but may be more prone to bleeding or bleeding disorders. This may be especially true after childbirth, according to a postpartum blood loss study that found an increased risk in women with blood type O.
People with blood type O may also fare worse after a traumatic injury due to increased blood loss, according to a study published in Critical Care.
Other studies have found that people with blood type AB may be at increased risk for cognitive impairment compared to people with type O. Cognitive impairment includes things like problems remembering, focusing, or making decisions.
Do I have to change my lifestyle according to my blood type?
While available research now shows that blood type can tip the scales in terms of the risk of developing heart disease, major factors such as diet, exercise or even the level of pollution you are exposed to in your community are key players in determining heart rate. diseases. health.
Guggenheim says that for patients who are trying to keep their heart healthy, there is no special recommendation for him to do, except a good healthy diet that reduces inflammation, regardless of someone’s blood type.
But, he notes, future research could suggest more definite ways in which doctors treat patients based on their blood type. All factors are considered equally, a patient with healthy cholesterol and blood type A levels can benefit from taking aspirin every day, while it may not be necessary for a person in the same boat with blood type O.
“A well-balanced, heart-healthy diet in general will be what any doctor will recommend, and I would say the ABO doesn’t change that,” Guggenheim said.
“I don’t think there is a protective benefit to just having blood type O, which contributes to the liberation from cattle,” he added.
More for your health
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended for health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified medical professional about any questions you may have about your medical condition or health goals.