Does Blood Type Influence Your Risk of Heart Disease?

A study done by the American Heart Association shows that blood type may influence risk of heart disease. Analyzing data from nearly 90,000 individuals collected over 20 years, researchers have discovered a correlation between blood type and heart disease.  Blood types A, B and AB are associated with higher risk of coronary artery disease while type O correlates with a lower risk for heart disease.

Which Blood Types are Associated With Increased Risk of Heart Disease?

Individuals in the study with the rarest blood type, AB, make up about 7 percent of the US population and have the highest increased risk of coronary artery disease at 23 percent when compared with type O individuals.  Individuals with blood type B showed an 11 percent increased risk of disease while individuals with blood type A showed only a 5 percent increased risk of heart disease.  About 43 percent of Americans have blood type O which is not associated with increased heart disease risk.

How Does Blood Type Affect the Heart?

It is not yet understood exactly how blood type plays a role in coronary artery disease.  According to Dr. Qi, the study's senior author, "blood type is complicated and there could be multiple mechanisms at play".  Evidence suggests that type A is associated with increased levels of LDL resulting in coronary artery occlusion and that type AB is linked to inflammation which affects vessel function.  Type O blood has been associated with increased blood flow and decreased clotting factors positively affecting the heart.

How Should You Use This Data as a Nurse Practitioner?

As a nurse practitioner, you can use this information to help identify patients at risk for coronary artery disease.  Patients at increased risk should be encouraged to exercise and consume healthy diets.  If patients are aware that they are at increased risk for heart disease, they may be more motivated to change their lifestyles to counteract their biological risk factors.