Blood and its components are commonly needed in settings that include trauma, cardiovascular and orthopedic surgeries, burn treatment, organ transplantation, and bone marrow transplants. All told, more than 15 million pints of blood are transfused in the U.S. each year.
Congratulations if you are already helping address this very real need. Whether it be through assisting with blood drives or personally donating, your efforts are truly appreciated. However, if you have neither joined the ranks of regular blood donors, nor been involved with conducting blood drives in your community—you may be overlooking an important health-giving practice. Emerging research suggests that regular blood donation may decrease your own risk of a variety of conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Consider the following: Berlin-based researcher Sundrela Kamhieh-Milz and colleagues studied 146 people with elevated blood pressures who donated blood four times over the course of a year. The blood donors logged striking benefits: their systolic readings (the upper blood pressure value) dropped an average of 12.2 points while their diastolic reading fell 6.9 points. To put this in perspective, this is roughly double the blood pressure lowering seen with a standard 25 mg dose of one of the most established blood pressure medications known as hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ).
Regular blood donation may also protect your body from the dangers of too much iron. Surprised? Although iron is necessary for life, excessive amounts are linked to poorer blood fluidity as well as increased oxidation in the body. Consequently, higher whole-body iron levels (commonly reflected by a measurement called “serum ferritin”) have been linked to a variety of cardiovascular conditions. These include heart attacks as well as high blood pressure disorders of pregnancy like preeclampsia. There is growing evidence that excess iron may also play a role in dementia—with suggestions that regular blood donation might decrease one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The emerging evidence seems clear. Blood donation is not only an act of compassion, it may save your own life as well. If you are not already a donor, why not join this compassionate group soon?
Scientific references can be found in my book from which this article is adapted, “The Methuselah Factor: Learn How to Live Sharper, Leaner, Longer and Better—in Thirty Days or Less.”
For more on this topic, watch my short video: “Benefits of Donating Blood” at TimelessHealingInsights.org/donateblood or enroll in our new free 30-day lifestyle program, a 7-minute-per-day video series called Performance Boost 30 that goes through The Methuselah Factor book in short daily installments, at TimelessHealingInsights.org/Boost.
David DeRose, MD, MPH, is a board-certified specialist in both internal medicine and preventive medicine. He also holds a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from Andrews University and pastors the Fort Wayne First Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.