May 22, 2024
Donating Blood

Donating Blood with Heart Conditions: Ensuring Safety and Giving Back

As blood centers and hospitals across the nation grapple with critically low blood supplies, individuals with heart disease may be contemplating whether they can contribute by donating blood.

According to experts, in most cases, individuals with heart disease can safely donate blood to help those in need. The constant demand for blood in the U.S. arises from various reasons such as surgeries, cancer treatments, childbirth, anemia, severe injuries, and blood disorders, with someone needing blood every two seconds on average.

Dr. Alcinda Flowers, the medical director of Versiti, a blood center based in Milwaukee, highlighted that individuals with a history of medical conditions, including heart disease, often express the desire to donate blood out of empathy for others in need. Despite facing health challenges themselves, these individuals understand the importance of blood donations firsthand.

While over 11 million units of blood are donated in the U.S. annually, only around 3% of eligible individuals choose to donate blood, as per the American Red Cross. The organization reported an emergency blood supply shortage earlier this year due to a decrease in donors caused by winter storms and a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Donation eligibility criteria vary among blood centers, with all potential donors undergoing a screening process to ensure their ability to safely donate blood. People with heart disease are generally considered eligible for donating blood, as are individuals with well-controlled high blood pressure, provided their blood pressure levels meet specific guidelines at the time of donation.

However, individuals with a recent heart attack, episode of angina, bypass surgery, angioplasty, or those experiencing changes in their heart condition that necessitate medication adjustments, are advised to wait for at least six months before donating blood.

Furthermore, individuals taking blood thinners or other anti-clotting medications must disclose all medications during the screening process to prevent potential harm to both themselves and blood recipients.

Dr. Tochi Okwuosa, a cardiologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, emphasized the importance of individuals with heart conditions consulting their healthcare team before donating blood to ensure their safety. Donors with low hemoglobin levels are generally discouraged from donating blood, as hemoglobin plays a crucial role in oxygen transport in the blood.

While donating blood is generally safe for individuals with well-controlled high blood pressure or high cholesterol, those on diuretics may experience increased dehydration and faintness post-donation. Okwuosa highlighted the potential risks for donors with heart failure or coronary artery disease, as insufficient oxygen delivery to tissues and organs could lead to adverse events.

Ultimately, donating blood can be a rewarding and altruistic act for those who are healthy enough to do so. By ensuring safety precautions and consulting with healthcare providers, individuals with heart conditions can contribute to addressing the critical need for blood donations while upholding their well-being.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it