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Blood Type May Influence Heart Disease Risk

Study Highlights:

— Having blood type A, B, or AB was associated with a higher risk for
coronary heart disease when compared to those who had blood type O.

— Genetics determine blood type, but a healthy lifestyle may help protect
those with types A, B or AB.

— The findings were based on two large studies of adults followed for at
least 20 years.

DALLAS, Aug. 14, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — People with blood type A, B,
or AB had a higher risk for coronary heart disease when compared to
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 7
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 5 percent increased risk.
About 43 percent 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, 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.

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

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.

The study did not evaluate the biological processes behind blood type
and heart disease risk.

“Blood type is very complicated, so there could be multiple mechanisms
at play,” Qi said.

However, there is evidence suggesting 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, Qi suggested. For example, a patient with type A blood may
best lower heart disease risk by decreasing cholesterol intake.

The study group was predominantly Caucasian, and it’s not clear whether
these findings would translate to other ethnic groups. Environment also
contributes to risk, Qi said.

“It would be interesting to study whether people with different blood
types respond differently to lifestyle intervention, such as diet,” Qi
said, noting that further analysis is needed.

Co-authors are Meian He, M.D., Ph.D.; Brian Wolpin, M.D., M.P.H.;
Kathryn Rexrode, M.D.; JoAnn E. Manson, M.D., Dr.PH.; Eric Rimm Sc.D.
and Frank B. Hu, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.

The National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association
Scientist Development Award and the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research
Center funded the study.

Learn more about the key factors and behaviors to avoiding heart
disease and stroke risks — what the American Heart Association calls
Life’s Simple 7(TM) — and what you can do to live a healthier

For the latest heart news, follow us on twitter: @HeartNews.

For science updates from the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular
Biology journal, follow @atvbahajournals.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart
Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors
and do not necessarily reflect the association’s policy or position.
The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their
accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily
from individuals; foundations and corporations (including
pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make
donations and fund specific association programs and events. The
association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from
influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and
device corporations are available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

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