People with type O blood are at almost treble the risk of dying from serious injury than their peers, scientists have found.
A study of 901 emergency care patients in Japan revealed that those with type O blood were 28% more likely to die than patients with other blood types. In fact, the death rate of patients with other blood types combined was just 11%, according to the findings published in the journal Critical Care.
The reason for the significantly increased death risk is because type O blood does not clot as well as other types. That’s because type O blood contains lower levels of something called Von Willebrand factor, a blood glycoprotein that plays an important role in coagulation and which may help prevent life-threatening bleeding.
Lead researcher Dr. Wataru Takayama, from Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital, said: “Recent studies suggest that blood type O could be a potential risk factor for haemorrhage.
“Loss of blood is the leading cause of death in patients with severe trauma but studies on the association between different blood types and the risk of trauma death have been scarce.
“We wanted to test the hypothesis that trauma survival is affected by differences in blood types.”
Dr. Takayama went on to say that the findings of the study raise some questions about the practice of giving patients with severe trauma an emergency transfusion of type O red blood cells, which could affect coagulation. The reason this is sometimes done is because type O blood can generally be donated to anyone with no ill-effects, making it a reasonably safe bet when a person’s own blood type is not immediately known.
Type O Is The Most Common Blood Type In The UK
Approximately 44% of the UK population are type O, making it the most common blood group, followed by A (42%), B (10%) and AB (4%).
However, even though type O blood is the most common, hospital stocks often run low because of the greater demand for it.
The study isn’t without its limitations, though, with the author pointing out that all the individuals involved were Japanese, which suggests further research is needed to understand if the same applies to other ethnic groups.
Furthermore, the study only focussed on comparing type O patients and non-type O patients, meaning there was no further analysis into the potential differences between the other three groups.
All the study participants had suffered severe trauma and were admitted to critical care medical centres in Japan between 2013 and 2016.
Dr. Takayama says that additional research is necessary to further investigate the results of his study and help develop the best treatment strategy for severe trauma patients.
Loss of blood is the leading cause of death for patients with severe trauma, yet studies focussing on how different blood types raise and lower this risk have, until now, been few and far between.
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