Benefits of Blood Donation
Donating blood is an important and lifesaving way to give back to your community and the rest of the nation. According to the Red Cross, blood and platelets can not be manufactured in a lab, which means the only way a hospital can give a transfusion to a patient is through donations. In fact, nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. because every 2 seconds, someone is in need of blood.
While one donation could potentially save up to three lives, recent reports show that it could also have a positive effect on the donor’s health. Since January is National Blood Donor Month, here are some reasons you should consider donating blood.
Importance of Blood Donation
Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed in the U.S every day, and while over 6.8 million people donate each year, this number is not enough. One car accident victim could require as much as 100 units, and those suffering from blood disorders such as Sickle Cell Anemia often require lifelong transfusions.
When tragedy strikes, having a surplus of blood at the ready can be the difference between life and death. Blood donations are vital for people being treated for cancer, patients undergoing orthopedic or cardiovascular surgery, or mothers experiencing blood loss during or after child birth.
What to Expect When Giving Blood
If you are a healthy adult over the age of 17, weighing over 110 pounds, you are most likely eligible to give blood. However, even if you are in excellent shape, taking precautions before giving blood can help you avoid any unpleasant side effects. On the day you plan to donate blood, be sure to drink plenty of water, eat a healthy meal and come prepared with the necessary documents. You will be required to fill out a questionnaire to ensure you are eligible to donate blood. Some common reasons people are often ineligible include:
– They are on blood thinners or certain other medications
– They have HIV or other infectious diseases
– They have donated within the past eight weeks
– They are pregnant
– They have traveled to a high-risk country or gotten a tattoo in the last year
Possible Risks Involved
Having a unit of blood extracted from your body can sometimes cause unpleasant side effects, especially if you are dehydrated or have not eaten enough beforehand. Possible risks of donating include:
– Bruising at the site
– Continued bleeding
– Dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea
– Pain or soreness
– Physical weakness
Health Benefits of Donating Blood
Helping people across the country who desperately need it boasts enormous benefits for the recipient, and to make it even better, donating can also have positive health benefits for the donor. Here are a few ways giving blood can help promote the donor’s health.
Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Blood viscosity is a proven contributing factor in cardiovascular disease. How sticky one’s blood is can be judged by how much friction it makes while traveling through the blood vessels. Too much friction can cause damage to the cell lining inside the arteries. When giving blood, you are reducing this viscosity and relieving any stress on your arteries. This means donating blood on a regular basis could reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event.
In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association did a study on this topic and found that people age 43-61 who gave blood every six months experienced fewer heart attacks and strokes than those who did not.
Reduces Cancer Risk
When giving blood, you are eliminating your body of excess iron stores. While iron can be important, excessive amounts of iron have been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including lung, liver and throat. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found donating blood twice a year may lower people’s risk for developing these cancers due to their decreased iron levels.
As odd as it sounds, donating blood can be a great way to burn calories. In fact, people burn around 650 calories every time they donate. However, since it is only safe to donate blood every eight weeks, this should never be a part of anyone’s weight loss plan. The American Red Cross requires all donors to weigh at least 110 pounds to prevent anyone from losing too much weight.
Provides A Free Blood Analysis
Because your blood must be tested to see if you are eligible to donate, you can consider it a free blood analysis. Your blood will be tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases. Having your blood tested may reveal that you need to visit a doctor, or if your blood is healthy, it can be a positive relief about your health.
For more information about the effects of blood donation on your cardiovascular health, or if you want to find out if you’re eligible to donate due to a heart condition, contact CVG today.