Blood is an incredible, essential component of all of our bodies. Its exact makeup, though, is not universal. In fact, there are eight different common blood types. Knowing which type is at work inside your body can help you stay healthy, plan for the future and prevent complications.
Know Your Blood Type
All blood consists of plasma, red and white blood cells, and platelets, but it’s the antigens that separate it into distinct categories or blood types. Antigens can trigger an immune response if they are foreign to your body, meaning an incorrect mix of blood can clump dangerously inside your veins. But don’t worry; if you should ever need a transfusion, our medical teams ensure that you receive only the specific type of blood that is compatible with your body.
These Are the Different Blood Types
- Group A – only has the A antigen on red cells (and B antibody in the plasma)
- Group B – only has the B antigen on red cells (and A antibody in the plasma)
- Group AB – has both A and B antigens on red cells (but neither A nor B antibody in the plasma)
- Group O – has neither A nor B antigens on red cells (but both A and B antibody are in the plasma)
The positive or negative distinction has to do with Rh factor, which can be present (+) or absent (–) in each group. If your blood is in Group A, for instance, you could be Type A+ or Type A–.
The Most Common (and Rare) Blood Types
One of the best reasons to know your blood type is to be able to help others through donation.
Sometimes, local organizations may put out a call for specific types, especially if there has been a natural disaster, tragedy or increase in traffic accidents. Ideally, blood transfusions are done with donated blood that's an exact match for both type and Rh factor.
However, O– is commonly known as the “universal donor” because of its ability to supply red blood cells to nearly any recipient. AB+ is the “universal recipient” and can receive blood from all types despite only being able to donate to other AB types. O+ tends to be the most common blood type across ethnic groups.
Learn Your Type’s Increased Risks
Scientists are constantly working to identify correlations between blood type and disease risk.
For example, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at two long-term studies that assessed individuals’ heart health and blood type. They found that Type O participants had the lowest risk of heart disease. Those with Type A blood were five percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease than those with Type O. Participants with Type B had a 10 percent higher risk and Type AB had a 23 percent higher risk.
Studies and statistics are always evolving, so it’s worthwhile to know your specific blood type and use credible medical resources to stay informed of new developments.
To find out your blood type, visit your primary care physician or simply ask when you go donate blood. The AdventHealth network of care also includes numerous lab locations throughout the country, which can provide testing and pathology support at any stage of your health journey.