Does Donating Blood Affect Blood Pressure?

You probably already know that blood donation saves millions of lives each year, but did you know that it is beneficial to other people besides the recipient? When a person donates blood, they are not only saving the lives of up to three people (per American Red Cross), but they are also helping themselves. The act of blood donation is beneficial to the donor in ways that go far beyond the sense of satisfaction that comes from helping others (per Health Matters).

One potential benefit of donating blood is a reduction in blood pressure, according to a 2016 study published in Transfusion. Dr. Robert A. DeSimone told Health Matters that donating blood reduces blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks because "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."

In other words, donating blood may reduce blockages in the arteries, and promote healthy blood flow.

This is why blood donation is beneficial to heart health

In the United States, roughly half of adults have high blood pressure (via University of Alabama). Known as the "silent killer," high blood pressure is a prominent risk factor for heart disease, which is the most common cause of death among Americans, according to the CDC. Thus, it is good news whenever we discover any activity that may bring blood pressure to healthy levels. We already know that diet, exercise, and cutting back on caffeine can reduce your blood pressure (per Mayo Clinic), but donating blood may be a way to reduce your blood pressure whilst helping others in the process.

While the research is mixed as to whether the act of blood donation actually reduces blood pressure or merely appears to do so (per Transfusion), it is likely beneficial regardless. Experts at Transfusion Medicine say that because blood pressure is measured prior to blood donation, blood donation is an opportunity to raise awareness about hypertension. Donating blood also reduces your level of cholesterol and iron, which may lower your risk of heart disease (via Journal of Blood Medicine).

Studies have also found that people who donate blood have a lower risk of dying in any given year, on average (per Medical News Today). While we may not know if this is due to correlation or causation, blood donation is undeniably a worthwhile activity that may not only help you, but also saves the lives of others.