Donating Blood Can Improve Your Health
If you’re like most people, “blood viscosity” probably isn’t on your radar. And yet, research has shown that blood viscosity is an important marker for assessing risk for heart attacks and strokes. In fact, it’s a more reliable marker than serum cholesterol levels. It turns out that by giving blood regularly, you can lower your systolic blood viscosity by 20%, and reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 88%.
What Is Blood Viscosity?
Simply put, blood viscosity is a measure of how easy or difficult it is for blood to flow through your body. Blood with low viscosity would be similar to red wine. Blood with high viscosity would be more like ketchup. As you can imagine, having blood that is thicker than it ought to be puts a strain on the cardiovascular system.
What Factors Affect Blood Viscosity?
Red blood cells play a significant role in determining how viscous your blood is. The greater the volume of red blood cells you have compared to your volume of whole blood, the higher your blood viscosity will be. This ratio of red blood cells to whole blood is called “hematocrit”. For men, hematocrit should generally be somewhere between 45 and 50%. For women, it should be between 37 and 48%. If hematocrit rises above these levels due to overproduction of red blood cells, blood flow can become restricted.
Another factor that can affect the flow of blood is how old your red blood cells are. Younger red blood cells are more pliable and less “sticky” than older cells. This enables them to travel through smaller capillaries more easily, and prevents the formation of clumps that can retard or block circulation.
How Does Donating Blood Help?
Donating blood helps to reduce blood viscosity in two ways. First, giving blood simply dilutes the blood in your body, making it thinner and less viscous. Secondly, giving blood stimulates the production of new red blood cells. And as we’ve mentioned, younger red blood cells are more pliable, less sticky, and less likely to clump within your cardiovascular system.
Make Blood Donation a Part of Your Healthy Aging Plan
For women, simply going through menopause can increase blood viscosity.
For men, hematocrit can increase with age. And for men doing testosterone replacement therapy, higher testosterone levels can increase hematocrit by stimulating bone marrow to produce more red blood cells.
At Renew Youth, we monitor hematocrit at regular intervals to ensure it stays within healthy ranges. And should your hematocrit become elevated we will work with you to determine an appropriate donation schedule as part of your treatment regimen.
Questions? We’re here to help. Give us a call at (800) 859-7511.