Regular blood donation is linked to lower blood pressure and a lower risk for heart attacks. “It definitely helps to reduce cardiovascular risk factors,” says Dr. DeSimone.
What’s the connection? “If your hemoglobin is too high, blood donation helps to lower the viscosity of the blood, which has been associated with the formation of blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke,” Dr. DeSimone says. “Interestingly, these benefits are more significant in men compared to women. We think maybe it’s because women have menstrual cycles, so they do it naturally without donating blood.”
People with a condition called hereditary hemochromatosis must have blood removed regularly to prevent the buildup of iron. Fortunately, this blood can benefit others.
“People with hereditary hemochromatosis are essentially healthy and are otherwise normal, but they have a gene mutation where they make too much blood,” Dr. Stone says. “So, we can use their healthy blood to help patients who need it.”
The New York Blood Center Hereditary Hemochromatosis Program allows people with hemochromatosis to donate blood rather than have it removed and thrown away. “Instead of having to go to their doctor’s office or a phlebotomy center to remove extra blood, they can go to any local blood drive,” Dr. Stone says.