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Blood Type May Influence Heart Disease Risk (Aug. 14)

New finding could help clinicians tailor treatments more efficiently

People with blood type A, B, or AB have a higher risk for coronary heart disease compared with people with blood type O, according to new research announced on August 14 by the American Heart Association (AHA) and published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

People in the study with the rarest blood type — AB, found in about 7% of the U.S. population — had the highest increased heart disease risk at 23% compared with people with type O. Those with type B had an 11% increased risk, and those with type A had a 5% increased risk. About 43% of Americans have 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, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author.

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 the ages of 30 and 75 years, and both groups were followed for 20 years or more.

The study did not evaluate the biological processes behind blood type and heart disease risk. However, evidence suggests that type A is associated with higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the waxy substance that can clog arteries, and type AB is linked to inflammation, which may affect the function of the blood vessels. Also, a substance that plays a favorable role in blood flow and clotting may be higher in people with type O blood.

Understanding blood type could help healthcare providers better tailor treatments, Dr. Qi suggested. For example, a patient with type A blood may best lower heart disease risk by decreasing cholesterol intake.

For more information, visit the AHA Web site.

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