If You Have This Blood Type, Your Heart Disease Risk Is Higher, New Study Says

The research found a relationship between the genetic trait and different specific ailments.

Knowing your blood type isn't usually an essential part of everyday life outside of certain emergency situations. But scientists have long studied how having type A, B, AB, or O blood could potentially affect your health. And according to a new study, having a specific blood type increases your risk of heart disease. Read on to see which genetic trait means you should stay alert.

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Having type A or type B blood puts you at a higher risk of heart disease.

A medical technician wearing a glove picks up a vial of a blood sample from a rack
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The latest insight comes from a research article published in the journal eLife on April 27 by a team looking to better understand the possible connection between blood type and predisposition to different diseases. To conduct their study, a team analyzed health data from more than 5 million people in Sweden to see if ABO blood type or RhD status could be linked to 1,000 different diseases. According to WebMD, anyone who is RhD positive has a protein called the D antigen on their red blood cells, while being RhD negative means the protein is absent.

Ultimately, results were able to link blood type with 49 diseases and one with RhD status. According to preliminary research, the team found that those with type A or type B blood are at a greater risk of developing heart disease.

Results also found a connection between other blood types and different diseases.

A scientist wearing full protective gear holds a vial of a blood sample while taking notes
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Besides cardiovascular health, the results also saw a connection between different blood types and other diseases. Researchers found that those with type A blood were at an increased risk of blood clotting issues such as deep vein thrombosis (DBT), while people with type O blood were more prone to a bleeding condition.

Results also found that women with type O blood or RhD positive of any blood type were more likely to develop high blood pressure when pregnant. The analysis also revealed that people with type B blood were less likely to develop kidney stones.

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The researchers concluded that more studies on the connection between blood type and disease were needed.

The gloved hand of a lab technician holding a vial of blood in front of a rack of other blood samples.
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The researchers noted that there was no connection established between those with type AB blood and the increased likelihood of any disease. They concluded that their results warrant further studies on the relationship between blood types and diseases, especially to determine whether or not another explanation for the link exists.

"Our findings highlight new and interesting relationships between conditions such as kidney stones and pregnancy-induced hypertension and blood type or group," Gustaf Edgren, MD, PhD, a senior author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said in a statement. "They lay the groundwork for future studies to identify the mechanisms behind disease development, or for investigating new ways to identify and treat individuals with certain conditions."

Other research has linked an increased risk of heart disease to a specific blood type.

Elderly woman having chest pains or heart attack in the park
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The meta-analysis wasn't the first to conclude that there could be a connection between blood type and heart disease. In a 2012 study published online in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, researchers pooled health data from over 89,500 adults between the ages of 30 and 75 for at least 20 years. The team then accounted for risk factors such as diet, age, body mass index (BMI), gender, race, tobacco use, and overall medical history.

Results found that people with blood type AB were 23 percent more likely to develop heart disease than others. Meanwhile, those with type B were 11 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, while those with type A had a five percent increased risk.

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

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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