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The link between blood types and heart health

Research suggests a link between your blood type and risk of experiencing cardiovascular issues. We explore the connection.

Do you know your blood type? There are four main blood groups — A, B, AB and O — and the type you have is determined by the genes inherited from your parents. According to data from the Medibank Better Health Index, O Positive and A Positive are the most common blood types in Australia, at 40% and 31% respectively, while just 1% of the population are AB Negative.

 

Why you might want to know your blood type

Knowing your blood type could not only save your life one day, but research suggests it could also hold some clues to your health. In particular, whether you may face an increased risk of suffering from certain cardiovascular issues, including coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

Coronary heart disease

In 2012, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health analysed two large prospective cohort studies — the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study — to determine whether there was a link between ABO blood groups and coronary heart disease. Interestingly, the research showed blood groups A and B were 5% and 11% more likely to develop coronary heart disease than O blood groups, with AB presenting the highest risk, at 23%.

While more research would be required to confirm these findings, a senior author from the study, Lu Qi, said:

“While people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease. It’s good to know your blood type in the same way you should know your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers. If you know you’re at higher risk, you can reduce the risk by adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as eating right, exercising, and not smoking.”

Heart attacks

A similar study was carried out in the Netherlands, analysing the data of more than 1.3 million individuals from 11 prospective cohort studies. Researchers behind the study sought to find a link between blood groups and cardiovascular issues, including heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease and heart failure.

What they discovered was that non-O blood groups were 9% more likely to suffer from coronary and cardiovascular events — particularly heart attacks. And while the exact reason for this is unclear, one assumption is that A, B and AB blood groups may carry greater quantities of a certain blood clotting protein, therefore heightening the risk of developing heart issues.

Remember — no matter what your blood type, it’s important to keep your heart healthy. This can be achieved by following a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Read about other ways you can keep your heart healthy here, or learn more on blood types here.

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