You may have seen media coverage lately on a study connecting blood type and coronary heart disease. Two large, prospective cohort studies (studies that follow and observe individuals over a period of time to determine how chosen factors affect outcomes) conducted over 20 years have found that “ABO blood group is significantly associated with [coronary heart disease] risk” in both women and men.
Coronary artery disease (CHD) is a “narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart” which can decrease blood flow to heart muscle and result in heart attack (myocardial infarction) if the vessels become completely blocked. Of course there are many factors that contribute to CHD that should not be overlooked, but understand risk factors for the individual in front of you is very helpful for formulating treatment!
Specifically, type O individuals had the lowest risk of developing CHD, and those with type A, type B, and type AB blood had 5%, 11%, and 23% increased risk of developing CHD respectively. Of course, Dr. Peter D’Adamo has been teaching about blood type and disease risk for decades already, but it is great to see this information getting some wider media attention. There are several known associations between blood type and physiology that can result in differences in risk of CHD:
- Blood type O individuals have significantly lower levels of a blood clotting factor call Von Willibrand factor and blood clotting plays a role in creating blockages. This connection is mentioned in this article that summarizes the findings of these studies.
- Blood type O individuals secrete significantly more intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP), an enzyme that is key to the proper breakdown of dietary cholesterol. IAP is also associated with secretor status, by the way!
- Finally, there are differences in response to stress among blood types. For example, comparing type A and type O (the two most common blood types), type A individuals have consistently higher baseline levels of cortisol (a key stress hormone) that is also associated with a range of health risks.