From experience a lot of people don’t know their blood group or blood type. Some people even confuse their genotype with their blood type.
Many Nigerians are forced to know their blood type when it’s a pre-requisite for obtaining a document or registering for a health insurance scheme.
There are four main blood groups or types of blood – A, B, AB and O and blood group is determined by the genes you inherit from your parents.
Blood type is also based on the Rh factor, a protein on red blood cells, which makes your blood type negative or positive, which means in total there are eight main blood groups. This means you can be one of these eight blood groups:
A RhD positive (A+), A RhD negative (A-), B RhD positive (B+), B RhD negative (B-), O RhD positive (O+), O RhD negative (O-), AB RhD positive (AB+), AB RhD negative (AB-)
The importance of knowing your blood type is not only to avoid risk of getting incompatible blood during an emergency but also in predicting disease risks.
Studies have shown that some blood types have slightly higher risks of certain diseases or health conditions.
1. Heart Problems:
According to a study from Harvard School of Public Health people with blood types A, B, or AB are at a greater risk for coronary heart disease than people with blood type O. In another study carried out in May, Dutch scientists warned that people with A, B or AB blood types are slightly more likely to have a heart attack.
They are believed to have higher levels of a clotting protein – which can stop blood from reaching the vital organ.
2. Memory Problems and Dementia:
A recent study of 30,000 people from the University of Vermont, US, showed that people with the AB blood type were 82 percent more likely than other blood types to develop thinking and memory problems that lead to dementia.
Dr Cushman who led the study said “Blood type has been related to diseases like stroke that have a vascular basis so we thought that maybe vascular issues contribute to memory problems.”
3. Gastrointestinal Problems:
Gustaf Edgren, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden says several studies have found that that people with blood type A have a higher risk of gastric cancer while people with type O, on the other hand, are more likely than others to develop peptic ulcer. Since both conditions are associated with a bacteria called H. pylori infection, he believes that the findings have to do with different susceptibility to bacterial infections associated with the blood types.
These research findings are really alarming considering the fact that you cannot do anything about your blood group since it is genetically determined.
There is no reason for you to worry that your blood type may increase your health risks as long as you can avoid the most important risk factors for many diseases which are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, inactivity and being overweight.