Research Reveals that Blood Type Affects Heart Disease Risk

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There is a lot of controversy surrounding the causes of heart disease these days.Common wisdom prescribed by the government indicates that a diet high in saturated fats will lead to heart disease, while many new voices are claiming that in fact diets high in refined carbs are the leading cause of such ills as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

While the truth is probably more complex than any one sentence can summarize, a new set of studies have revealed what seems to be a basic fact: your blood type can affect the probability of your developing heart disease.

Two new studies have been reviewed by researchers that track a total of almost 90,000 patients over the course of 20 years, and the results are in. Coronary heart disease is least likely to develop in people with type O blood, while those with type AB were 23% more likely to have heart disease. Type B blood were only 11% more likely, and finally type A were only at an increased risk of 5%.

These two studies were conducted by Harvard researchers. One tracked 62,000 women over the course of 26 years, while the second tracked 27,400 men over 24 years. Of these test groups, about 2,500 developed heart disease.

The researchers claim to be totally surprised, and found that the associations with blood type held even after other factors such as diabetes, cholesterol levels, and hypertension were taken into account. 

To be clear, the researchers did not state that having type AB blood would lead to heart disease, but rather that there was a simple correlation between the two. What causes this correlation is as of yet unknown, but other research has indicated that there could be a link between different blood types and different mechanisms, such as type A being linked to a certain kind of cholesterol, while type AB can be linked with a level of heightened inflammation. These mechanisms are not as of yet understood, but this new research promises new lines of inquiries to be followed up on, and could deepen our understanding of the many causes of heart disease.

It is also not clear whether different blood types will cause different responses to medication. Standard preventative measures such as statins that lower cholesterol, blood pressure medications, and even general approaches such as exercise and diet have not yet been studied in relation to blood type, so that may greatly influence how this study is received. 

While there is nothing you can do about your blood type, this new research could help doctors be more aware of a patient's risk for heart disease as a result, motivate those with type AB and B blood types to be more healthy and self aware. Fortunately, almost half the nation has type O blood, with only a 4% of people having type AB. 

Photographs courtesy of Neeta Lind and Andrew Mason.

Phil Tucker is a health and fitness blogger that is fascinated by interval training and the new reset cleanse.

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