What can your blood type tell you about your health? More than we may have realized, it turns out; new research discovered that adults with type A blood are more likely to suffer from an early stroke.
Previous studies show that those with certain blood types — A, B, or AB types — are at increased risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and coronary artery disease. This is because these blood types have what’s called an ABO gene, which may cause naturally higher levels of cholesterol. (There are several theories as to why the ABO gene increases heart disease risk, but scientists have yet to agree on one.)
Several studies have also linked A, B, and AB types to a higher stroke risk. However, new research published in the online issue of Neurology, found that type A blood creates the highest risk.
Linking Blood Type A to Higher Stroke Risk
In the Neurology study, the team analyzed 48 research papers, all of which explored the relationship between genetics and ischemic strokes. (Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke, and they occur when a vessel blockage stops blood flow to the brain.)
The researchers looked at data from nearly 17,000 volunteers who had suffered a stroke and nearly 580,000 who did not. Using this data, they examined participants’ genetic makeups to identify gene variations that correlated with higher stroke risk. In their first round of testing, they found a link between early stroke risk and the gene that determines blood type (A, AB, B, or O).
Next, the researchers compared each blood type to stroke risk. They discovered that those who suffered a stroke before age 60 were more likely to have type A blood and less likely to have type O blood. (This was in comparison to those who suffered a late stroke and those who never had a stroke.) After adjusting the data for other factors — diet, sex, and physical activity, for example — they learned that people with type A blood had a 16 percent higher risk. People with type O blood had a 12 percent lower risk.
Why This Is Important
The study authors don’t yet know why type A blood might increase stroke risk, but this research is a step in the right direction. The authors say their study will help scientists better understand why strokes happen in the first place, and they suggest that future research could support the development of preventative treatments to stop strokes altogether.
While the science can’t currently answer every question, it’s clear that for those with type A blood, risk awareness and preventative health care are critical. They could mean the difference between having a stroke and avoiding one.
How To Reduce Your Risk of Stroke
If you have type A blood, don’t stress — there are ways you can naturally reduce your stroke risk at home:
- Eat healthy meals and snacks full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean protein (like chicken or salmon).
- Get regular exercise. (Check out Denise Austin’s strength training routine for beginners.)
- Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible.
- Limit your alcohol intake (no more than one drink per day) — it can raise your blood pressure.
- Get medical conditions like cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease under control.
Work with your doctor to reduce your risk, and be sure you confirm it’s safe to make changes to your diet or activity level. Lastly, don’t blame your genes too much — how we take care of ourselves is just as important as knowing our genetic predispositions.