Does Donating Blood Lower Blood Pressure
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.
We all know that donating your blood can save lives by giving the gift of life to someone in need. But did you know it also has health benefits? In fact, regular blood donation lowers blood pressure and may also help protect against coronary artery disease (CAD), a major cause of death in America. It’s not just about having more iron either; recent studies show that the immune system is boosted through regular donations as well.
The process of collecting blood from donors involves taking their blood and spinning it down into separate components — red cells, platelets, plasma and white cells — which are then used to treat patients who have been injured or sick. The donated plasma component is often called “plasma rich” because it contains proteins that clot wounds. Plasma gets separated from whole blood during the donation process, and it is spun at high speeds — 70 miles per hour (112 kilometers per hour) — so that the blood separates into its different components. Afterward, if any donations meet FDA standards, they become eligible to be sent out for use. Those who donate on an ongoing basis get incentives such as discounts on gym memberships or movie tickets.
In this article we’ll find out exactly how this simple act of altruism protects us and what happens when we don’t donate enough. First up: Why does blood pressure go down?
When you give blood, you’re actually doing two things: You’re helping yourself by getting healthy, and you’re helping others by providing them with lifesaving transfusions. Transfusion medicine is one of the fastest growing specialties in hospitals today. Because there aren’t many alternatives for treating diseases or injuries like brain hemorrhage or severe burns, millions of people worldwide rely upon blood transfusions each year. About 1 percent of Americans receive a blood transfusion every year.
Why does the body respond differently when we give ourselves blood than when we give it to others? Partly, it’s because our bodies react differently to stress. When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones, including adrenaline, that prepare your muscles for action. Giving blood is almost like putting yourself into fight-or-flight mode. Your body starts pumping extra oxygenated blood throughout your body and prepares you for activity. This response is similar to the way your body responds when you exercise. However, when you donate blood, your body doesn’t have to do anything else but rest. And since resting is much less stressful than fighting or fleeing, this lowered level of stress leads to improved moods and lower blood pressure.
Next, let’s talk about why some people don’t donate enough.
Not everyone will benefit from donating blood. According to the American Red Cross, only about half of those eligible donors make appointments to come in for their annual physicals. That means that there are plenty of potential donors sitting around waiting for something to happen before they decide to take part in the program. If you’re not sure whether you qualify or want to schedule an appointment, call your local chapter of the American Red Cross. They should be able to answer any questions you might have and point you toward the right resources.
How Often Should I Give Blood?
If you’ve never given blood, you probably won’t notice any difference between your first visit and subsequent visits. If you already regularly donate, however, you may notice increased levels of energy after donating. With your doctor’s permission, you can schedule additional tests to determine whether you’d benefit from increasing your frequency of donation.
There are three types of blood donations:
Overseas collection: Your blood goes overseas where it’s tested and screened. Then it’s returned to the United States. Overseas donation takes approximately four weeks.
Domestic collection: Your blood stays in the U.S. while screening occurs. Domestic collection usually takes about two days.
Voluntary donation: As the name implies, these donations occur without payment. These donations are collected in advance by organizations like the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). People who volunteer for donation are screened to ensure they meet certain criteria. Since most people think of bone marrow transplants when considering volunteering for the NMDP, they usually assume that they would suffer no harm by donating blood. However, sometimes donors are asked to provide blood for other purposes, including testing. For example, some people who donate blood for the NMDP end up being tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C and HTLV. There are even people who donate specifically for research projects. Regardless of the reason behind your donation, you should always consult your physician before donating.
Most blood banks require donors to wait six months between donations. During that time, you can still test for STDs or get checked for infections. Even though you’re allowed to donate again immediately afterward, it’s recommended that you abstain for 12 hours after donation. Otherwise, you could pass along viruses such as hepatitis or West Nile virus. A full recovery period follows your donation, and you shouldn’t experience any side effects.
Now that we’ve talked about why donations lower BP and how frequently you should donate, read on to learn how blood donation affects immunity.
Blood Bank Donation Facts
According to the American Red Cross, men age 18 to 59 years old who weigh 110 pounds (48 kilograms) or more can safely donate every 56 days. Women ages 17 to 55 years old who weigh 95 pounds (44 kilograms) or more can safely donate once every 52 weeks. Men age 60 and older who weigh 100 pounds (45 kilograms) or more can safely donate twice every 16 weeks. Women age 60 and older who weigh 105 pounds (47 kilograms) or more can safely donate once every eight weeks.
Because blood donations involve the transfer of fluids and tissues, they can boost your immunity. Doctors recommend donating about once a month, or whenever you feel good about it. You can increase your immunity through multiple ways. One way is simply by having a positive attitude. While you’re donating, you should try to stay relaxed and enjoy the company of your fellow volunteers. Remember, you’re helping someone else, and that person needs your support. The best feeling in the world is knowing that you helped another living organism. Another way to strengthen your immunity is to eat foods that contain vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 promotes cell growth and development, which increases the production of antibodies. Increasing antibody production makes your body better equipped to resist infection. Finally, vitamin B12 can improve your ability to absorb folic acid. Folic acid helps produce white blood cells and prevents birth defects. So next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some fresh fruit, vegetables and fish to add to your diet.
A very small percentage of people develop allergic reactions to medications that are injected into their veins during donation. Such reactions include hives, difficulty breathing and chest pain. If you ever develop symptoms like these, stop donating until you speak with your doctor.
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