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If You Have This Blood Type, Be Worried About Heart Disease

There is one factor that seems to increase your chances of developing heart problems.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

By and large, there's no magic secret to avoiding heart disease—it's highly preventable through healthy lifestyle choices like a good diet, frequent exercise, and regular check-ups to keep risk factors like blood sugar and blood pressure in check. But there is one factor you might not know about that seems to increase your chances of developing heart problems, and it may warrant being more vigilant about your health. Studies have found that people with certain blood types have a higher risk for heart disease. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

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This Blood Type Carries a Higher Risk of Heart Disease

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Having a non-O blood type (meaning A, B and AB) seems to put you at higher risk for heart disease and heart failure, along with clotting disorders. A large study by the American Heart Association looked at more than 400,000 people and found that people with type A or B blood had an 8% higher risk of heart attack and a 10% higher risk of heart failure than people with type O blood.

What's more, the study found that people with type A or B blood were 51% more likely to develop blood clots in the veins (deep vein thrombosis) and 47% more likely to develop blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), two conditions that can increase the risk of heart failure. 

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Earlier Study Also Found Increased Risk

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An earlier study, also published in the AHA journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, looked at 89,500 adults followed for more than 20 years. The researchers found that people with blood type AB were 23% more likely to develop heart disease than others. People with type B blood had an 11% increased risk, and those with type A had a 5% increased risk.

"While people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease," said Dr. Lu Qi, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and senior author of that study. "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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Why the Difference?

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Experts believe the increased risk may be due to the ABO gene, which is present in people with A, B, or AB blood types. It makes red blood cells of those types stickier and more resistant to blood flow, which can make blood thicker and more prone to clot. That, in turn, may increase the risk of heart disease. 

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New Study Finds Risk for Cancer Patients

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And a new study published last month in the journal Blood Advances found that cancer patients with non-O blood types are at greater risk for venous thromboembolism, or blood clots in the veins. "Blood typing is easy to perform, can be done worldwide, and doesn't require any specialized background knowledge or equipment," said the study's author, Dr. Cornelia Englisch of the Medical University of Vienna. "And of course, every risk factor that we identify helps us to understand these life-threatening complications in cancer patients better," she added. "Perhaps this will create awareness for the role blood types can play as clinical biomarkers."

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more