(RxWiki News) Magnets have an untold number of uses -- both in science and everyday living. New research shows another of those uses may be heart attack prevention.
A patient's risk of heart attacks is increased when blood becomes too thick. A physicist at Temple University has determined he can thin human blood through the use of a magnetic field, possibly also reducing the risk of heart attacks.
"Magnetic field therapy may be safer than alternatives like aspirin."
Rongjia Tao, professor and physics chair at Temple University, was the first to engineer the use of magnetic fields to decrease the thickness of oil in pipelines and engines. He is using the same technology to study thinning blood in the human body.
Since red blood cells contain iron, Tao has been able to reduce blood thickness by between 20 and 30 percent by subjecting the body to a magnetic field of 1.3 Tesla for one minute. This is about the same as the exposure received during an MRI.
Numerous blood samples were tested, which showed that the magnetic field polarized red blood cells prompting them to link together in short chains, speeding the movement of blood. Since the chains are larger than a single blood cell, they tended to flow down the center, which reduced friction against the walls of blood vessels.
Blood slowly returned to its normal state over a period of several hours after the magnetic field was removed. The magnetic field did not alter the normal function of red blood cells.
The research provides an effective way to control blood flow thickness within a certain range. Tao is continuing studies to utilize the technology as part of a therapy to prevent heart disease.
The only method currently available for thinning blood is medication such as aspirin, which can produce side effects.