People think that heart disease is hereditary or a lifestyle disease, but a new study by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston shows that certain blood types seem to be associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease than others.
People from blood groups AB, A and B are at more risk of heart disease than those with people from blood type O. Those with type AB, which is the rarest blood group, are 23% more likely to suffer from heart disease. The study also shows that those with blood type B had an 11% higher risk of heart disease and individuals with blood type A had a 5% higher risk of than those with type O blood.
According to the American Red Cross, Type O is the most common blood type, having 45% of Americans under this blood group. Type A is the second next common, followed by B, and the least common is AB.
The findings are based on two big US analytical studies that looked at more than 85,000 people between 1976 and 2006. The participants, who were between ages 30 and 75, were asked to report their blood type and whether they had suffered a heart attack. This study group was mostly Caucasian, but researchers say it is not clear if the findings would be reflected in other ethnic groups.
The findings were published on August 14 in the American Heart journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
For those who do not know their blood types yet, better find the time to have it checked ASAP. Professor Lu Qi, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, said that it’s beneficial to know your blood type the same way you should be aware of your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers. “While people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk of developing heart disease,” he added.
Dr. Lu Qi also said that those who know they are at higher risk may be motivated to adopt a healthier lifestyle such as exercising, eating right and not smoking.
This latest research suggests the relationship between blood types and risk of heart disease. But not all experts agree with the idea.
Dr. Steve Nissen, chairman of cardiology at Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said there are no clinical implications derived from the study. “This type of study does not provide a degree of rigor that we usually consider necessary to definitely prove the point,” stressed Dr. Jeffrey Brinker, a cardiologist from Johns Hopkins University.
But some cardiologists agree that the findings are potentially beneficial.
Dr. Jeffrey Berger of NYU medical center said that the study is large and is able to reinforce a message.“This study adds to the existing literature demonstrating a significant association between ABO blood group and cardiovascular adverse events.”
Despite the differences of opinions from health experts regarding the relationship between blood types and heart disease, they are on the same boat when it comes to advising on how to take care for one’s health: live a healthy lifestyle and adjust other modifiable risk factors. This means patients must focus on the risk factors they can change such as exercise, weight loss, tobacco use and controlling their cholesterol levels.