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Modern Bloodletting

June 21, 2012

Giving blood regularly may have cardiovascular benefits for people with metabolic syndrome.



Revisiting bloodletting…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Bloodletting was once a gruesome practice used to treat almost any ailment, often with harmful or deadly consequences. But now, it’s getting a second look. A new study suggests that giving blood regularly could reduce cardiovascular risk factors for obese people with metabolic syndrome. Cardiologist Andreas Michalsen of Charity University in Berlin led the research.

ANDREAS MICHALSON (Charity University, Berlin):

We really were surprised to observe a very significant reduction of blood pressure. The systolic blood pressure dropped about 16 points ml hg. // Normally in my experience, // we see reductions of about 6 or 8 or 10 pts, but 16 is a large effect. 5


Michalsen says the main reason for this decrease was probably due to the removal of iron from the body. People with metabolic syndrome often have too much iron, which is detrimental to blood vessels. The researchers also found reductions in blood lipids and insulin resistance. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

For some people, giving blood regularly could have benefits for the heart. (Nardel Gervacio/United States Navy?