Most of us think the only reason we should know our blood type is so that we can tell doctors in an emergency situation where we need blood. You might know your blood type if you’ve had surgery or donated to a friend or family member when they needed it. In our everyday life, most of us think blood type doesn’t matter, but we may be wrong.
You can have one of eight blood types. There is A, B, O and AB. All of those can be positive or negative. Blood type determines what kind of antigens your body produces. Type O doesn’t make any antigens. Positive or negative blood means whether you have proteins on your red blood cells. O- blood is the universal donor because it lacks antigens and proteins; anyone can receive it.
New research shows blood type might count for more than just a transfusion. People with blood types that aren’t O have an eight percent higher risk of a heart attack. An older study found that people who weren’t type O- had a nine percent higher risk of having a heart problem. People with type A or B blood have a 44 percent higher risk of blood clots than those with O-.
People with type A blood have a 16 percent higher risk of having a stroke before the age of 60 than those with B or O. People with type O have a 12 percent lower risk of ever having a stroke than people with A or B. The researchers said that, while their results were clear, the increase in risk wasn’t high enough to justify people with type A blood getting extra screenings or worrying. They think the difference in risk is because people with type A blood may have more blood clots. They believe more research is necessary.
If you’re concerned about your blood type, you may want to talk to your doctor about your risk of clots. While we can’t control our blood type, we can control certain risk factors. The researchers stressed that their work is still in its early days and no one should panic or start making significant lifestyle changes.
There are other important heart factors you absolutely should know. “The differences between blood group type A and someone who’s type B or O are so small that for an individual person, it wouldn’t change what you do or how you live your life,” said Dr. Michael Hill. “The biggest thing that people don’t pay attention to is high blood pressure, it’s by far the most important risk factor for stroke in all age groups. So getting people to pay attention to the fact that blood pressure is measurable and treatable and remediable; that is really important in their overall health.”
You shouldn’t take medication for your heart based purely on your blood type at this point, but you may wish to discuss your diet and lifestyle with your doctor to be sure you’re taking care of your heart. And, if you don’t know your blood type, you should find out. Just in case you need to know it in an emergency!