Donating blood is a quick and simple process that could mean the difference in life and death for patients needing blood transfusions due to an accident or medical procedure. But did you know there is another lesser-known benefit to donating blood? Research studies have shown that regularly donating blood can lead to a massive reduction, nearly 88%, in heart disease among both men and women.
How Were Participants Evaluated?
Statistically, premenopausal women are at a lower risk for heart disease than postmenopausal women or men of similar age and health. It was assumed that hemoglobin and ferritin levels, which rose after menopause, were the reasons for the difference. Researchers long searched for a conclusive difference and it was first discovered in a study conducted in Finland in 1997, which has been replicated in other countries and in different populations in the years since. The study, called the Kuopio Heart Disease Risk Study, followed 2,862 regular blood donors and another group of 2,529 non-donors over the course of 9 years. They determined that the 88% drop in heart disease could be accomplished in as few as one to two donations per year in both men and women.
Why Does Blood Donation Make A Difference?
Although not completely clear, the researchers indicate that the reason for the drop in heart disease risk is due to reduced iron stores in the blood and liver and diminished viscosity of the blood. Your body regularly “recycles” blood cells and platelets every roughly 30 days. As we age, the blood becomes “sticky,” which may result in increased risk of heart disease. Whenever blood is lost or given through a donation, new cells are produced, which do not have the “sticky” factor of the recycled cells. This new blood doesn’t clot as quickly, which lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke. Of course, blood donation isn’t the only key to heart prevention. Men and women of all ages should maintain a proper diet and exercise routine, stay at a proper weight, stop smoking, and limit alcohol consumption. If you have questions about heart disease, your risk of having it, or ways to prevent it, make sure to talk to you doctor at The Woman’s Clinic. We will discuss a healthy heart during your yearly exam. If you haven’t made your appointment, make your health a priority and contact us today!