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Your blood group can affect your health

 

May 2017

If you don’t have an O blood group, you may have a slightly increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.

This news has just been released from scientists associated with Holland’s University Medical Centre Groningen, who say blood group should be considered in the future as part of risk assessments in preventing heart disease.

The actual figures appear low – in people with blood group the risk was 14 in 1,000 compared with people with other blood groups where the risk is 15 in 1,000. But while the scientists say the risks seem small on an individual level, in terms of populations as a whole it is significant.

The researchers are saying that this could be because of lower levels of a blood-clotting protein in people with O group blood compared with those who have A, B and AB blood.

But there are other reasons why it is important to know your blood group, especially as we age. If you have an operation, transplant or other major surgery, the healthcare professionals will need to know your blood group. For instance, if you need blood during a procedure, blood from the wrong group can be life threatening.

Generally, blood is classified into two main groups, the ABO group and the Rh group system. By far the most common is O group...almost half the population come under this grouping. The group of blood is worked out by the antigens and antibodies in your blood.

Antigens are protein molecules found on the surface of red blood cells while antibodies  are proteins found in plasma.

Basically:

Blood group A has A antigens on the red blood cells with anti-B antibodies in the plasma
Blood group B has B antigens with anti-A antibodies in the plasma
Blood group O has no antigens, but both anti-A and anti-B antibodies in the plasma
Blood group AB has both A and B antigens, but no antibodies

Then there is an additional Rh grouping system, when your red blood cells have another antigen in them, a protein known as RhD antigen.  Whatever your main A, B, O or AB blood group, you can then by RhD positive if you have this additional antigen, or RhD negative.

Most people, around 85%, are RhD positive.

You inherit your blood group from your parents and there is nothing you can do to alter it.

However, along with this latest study, there has been earlier research that people with blood type O may have a higher risk of developing stomach ulcers, or if you have blood type A you may have higher risks of developing microbial infections, while you may have a high risk of developing pancreatic cancer if you have type AB or B blood.

Lots of work is being done in this area and there are already some reports out that indicate the type of blood group can affect how the body reacts to food.

As always there are lots of grey areas still but it is an interesting area of research and if you are blood group A, B or AB then the fact that you may have a slightly increased risk of heart disease may encourage you to ensure you look after yourself as healthily as possible.



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