Can You Donate Blood If You Have High Blood Pressure?

Donating blood is extremely important. It is estimated that 4.5 million Americans need a blood transfusion every year, or one every 2 seconds, equaling 43,000 pints of blood used every day, according to the Community Blood Center. However, despite 37% of the U.S. population being eligible to donate blood, only 10% of people do so. It's estimated that 6.8 million Americans donate blood each year, adding up to 13.6 million units of whole blood, according to the American Red Cross.

You have to meet a variety of eligibility requirements before you are allowed to donate blood. In general, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in general good health as defined by the blood donation organization, according to Cedars Sinai.

But what if you have high blood pressure? Can you donate then? Well, it depends just how high your blood pressure is.

Your blood pressure must be below 180/100

Having high blood pressure means that the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels is too high. The tissues inside the arteries are delicate, meaning that over time, high blood pressure can cause damage to that tissue, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

But what does that mean for donating blood? Blood pressure is represented by two numbers. The first number represents the systolic force, blood pumping out of the heart and into the arteries. The second number represents the diastolic force, the pressure created as the heart rests between beats, notes the AHA. When you go to donate blood, your blood pressure will be measured and cannot exceed 180 over 100, according to the National Institutes of Health Blood Bank. And, yes, you can donate blood if you are taking medication for high blood pressure.

With this limit in mind, many people with high blood pressure will still be able to donate blood, because high blood pressure is defined as 130 over 80 or higher by the National Institute on Aging.