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August 16, 2012

Study: Blood type may influence heart disease risk

People with blood type A, B, or AB had a higher risk for coronary heart disease when compared with those with blood type O, according to new research published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, an American Heart Association journal. 

People in this study with the rarest blood type -- AB, found in about seven percent of the U.S. population -- had the highest increased heart disease risk at 23 percent. Those with type B had an 11 percent increased risk, and those with type A had a five percent increased risk. About 43 percent of the U.S population has type O blood.

"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 an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Know your type

Knowing your blood type can be an important part of staying healthy and avoiding heart disease, Qi said. "It's good to know your blood type the same way you should know your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers," he 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."

The findings are based on an analysis of two large, well-known U.S. studies -- 62,073 women from the Nurses' Health Study and 27,428 adults from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Participants were between ages 30 and 75, and both groups were followed for 20 years or more.

Other factors

Researchers also considered the study participants' diet, age, body mass index, gender, race, smoking status, menopause status and medical history. Researchers noted that the percentages of different blood types seen among the men and women enrolled in the two studies reflected levels seen in the general population.

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