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Blood Type to Indicate Risk of Heart Disease

Aug 15, 2012 06:18 AM EDT

It is very important for a person to know their blood type for a variety of reasons. One of the prime purposes is that your blood type might be a strong clue to your risk of heart disease.

A new research published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, an American Heart Association journal, came up with some astonishing findings that people with blood type A, B, or AB are prone to risks of coronary heart diseases compared to those with O type..

A team led by Dr. Meian He, an epidemiologist in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, reviewed data from two large U.S. studies that included 62,073 women from the Nurses' Health Study and 27,428 adults from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

Participants were between the ages 30 and 75, and both groups were followed for 20 years or more. In order to proceed with the findings, the participants were asked to report their blood type, as well as whether they had suffered a heart attack. The study considered other factors such as participants' diet, age, body mass index, gender, race, smoking status, menopause status and medical history. 

On conducting the study, the researchers learnt that people with the rarest blood type, AB, found in about 7 percent of the U.S. population, showed the highest increased heart disease risk at 23 percent. Those carrying blood type B had an 11 percent increased risk and 5 percent increased risk was associated with type A.

Majority of the American population, nearly 43 percent carry the O blood type.

"While people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease," said Lu Qi, M.D., Ph.D., the study's senior author and assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

"It's good to know your blood type the same way you should know your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers," Qi said. "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."

This study, though, neglected the biological processes behind blood type and heart disease risk.

Evidence suggests that type A is associated with higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This is the main causative factor in blocking the arteries. Type AB is linked to inflammation, which may affect the function of the blood vessels. Also, a substance that plays a favorable role in blood flow and clotting may be higher in people with type O blood.

According to the study author, this study can greatly benefit health care providers as they can tailor the treatments once they have a better understanding of the blood type.

Qi concluded saying, "It would be interesting to study whether people with different blood types respond differently to lifestyle intervention, such as diet. Though, this finding requires further analysis."

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