Heart disease risk may be linked to blood type, according to new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) research. Senior author Lu Qi, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, and colleagues found that people with blood types A, B, or AB have a higher risk for coronary heart disease than people with blood type O. Those with the rarest blood type, AB, had the greatest risk.
“While people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease,” said Qi in an August 14, 2012 American Heart Association (AHA) press release. “It’s good to know your blood type in the same way you should know your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers. 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.”
Pooling data from two long-running research studies that tracked 89,500 adults over 20 years, the researchers found that people with blood type AB were 23% more likely to develop heart disease than others. Those with type B had an 11% increased risk, and those with type A had a 5% increased risk.
The study was published online Aug. 14, 2012 in an AHA journal, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. Other HSPH authors include JoAnn Manson, professor in the Department of Epidemiology; Eric Rimm, associate professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition; and Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology.