Donating Blood

author : AMSSM
comments : 2

How to coordinate blood donation with triathlon schedule?

Member Question:

"I recently found out I have the most rare blood type (AB neg) and am interested in donating blood. This is not something I've ever had experience with, but I would imagine it has a significant impact on racing and training.

Could anybody provide any suggestions or insight or links for how to best manage a training/racing schedule with blood donations? For instance maybe you shouldn't donate blood within 4 weeks of a race, or 3 weeks or whatever, I'm not sure."


Answer from Robert C. Oh, MD, MPH, CAQSM
Member AMSSM

We’ve all heard of how “blood doping” can give an athlete an advantage and the opposite is true: if you donate a pint of blood, you are more likely to experience performance decrements. Therefore you ask a great question—when should you race competitively after you have donated blood? Well, let’s take a look at this recent study published last year. [1] They took healthy male recreational runners who were regular blood donors and looked at their performance in a 3K time trial and their peak oxygen consumption (VO2 max) before donation and 3, 7, 14, and 28 days after blood donation. While performance in the 3K time trial decreased after blood donation at 3 and 7 days, by 14 days, performance was no different than baseline. This is despite having lower blood volume and iron stores (ferritin) at 14 and 28 days.

So, what does this mean? For most healthy men, who have normal blood and iron stores to start and donate blood, a minimum of two weeks should be allowed to recover performance. Clearly, though, there was evidence that blood and iron stores were not fully restored after 28 days, so be careful if you minimize the recovery time. While the time trial study didn’t test women, menstruating women are at particular risk for anemia, and low iron stores and hence performance decrements. Similar to men, women should also give the minimum 2 weeks after blood donation to minimize performance loss, but may need more time to recover blood loss if starting at lower iron stores.

If you want to accelerate restoration of blood and iron stores after blood donation, consider iron supplementation. A recent study in both men and women demonstrated that low dose iron gluconate (37.5 mg of elemental iron) supplementation after blood donation accelerates time to recover blood volume and iron stores.[2] We also know that studies looking at iron supplementation for healthy menstruating women reduces risk of anemia, help restore iron stores, and increases physical performance.[3]

In conclusion, if you want to maximize performance, it is best to wait until after the big race to donate blood. If you are a regular blood donor, to be safe, don’t donate at least 2-4 weeks prior to a race where you want to perform the best. Finally, you may be able to restore your iron stores quicker after blood donation if you add more iron in your diet or supplement with one tablet of iron gluconate. Happy racing!




References

1.        Ziegler AK, Grand J, Stangerup I, et al. Time course for the recovery of physical performance, blood hemoglobin, and ferritin content after blood donation. Transfusion. 2015;55(4):898-905. doi:10.1111/trf.12926.

2.        Kiss JE, Brambilla D, Glynn SA, et al. Oral Iron Supplementation After Blood Donation. JAMA. 2015;313(6):575. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.119.

3.        Low MSY, Speedy J, Styles CE, De-Regil LM, Pasricha S-R. Daily iron supplementation for improving anaemia, iron status and health in menstruating women. Cochrane database Syst Rev. 2016;4:CD009747. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009747.pub2.

Rating

Click on star to vote
1539 Total Views  |  202 Views last 30 days  |  49 Views last 7 days
date: October 30, 2016

AMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

avatarAMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

View all 420 articles