Individuals with an A, B, or AB blood type have a significantly higher risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) than those with an O blood type, say experts.
The analysis of 62,073 women from the Nurses' Health Study and 27,428 adults from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study showed that individuals with the rarest blood type, AB, had a 23% higher risk for CHD risk than those who had a blood type of O.
As reported in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, individuals with an A blood type had a 6% higher risk for CHD and those with a B blood type a 15% higher risk for CHD than individuals with an O blood type.
"While people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease," commented lead author Lu Qi (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) in a press statement.
"It's good to know your blood type the same way you should know your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers," he added. "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 incident rates of CHD per 100,000 person-years were 125, 128, 142, and 161 for those with blood type O, A, B, and AB in women and 373, 382, 387, and 524 for the respective blood types in men.
Further analysis revealed that compared with participants who reported a blood group of O, those with a non-O blood type were 11% more likely to have CHD. The population-attributable risk for the non-O blood group (A, B, and AB) for CHD was 6.27%.
The study did not investigate the mechanisms underlying the association between blood type and heart disease risk, but Qi noted: "Blood type is very complicated, so there could be multiple mechanisms at play."
He pointed out that there is evidence to suggest that blood type A is associated with higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and type AB is linked to inflammation.
"It would be interesting to study whether people with different blood types respond differently to lifestyle intervention, such as diet," he suggested.
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