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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Using Magnets to Help Prevent Heart Attacks: Magnetic Field Can Reduce Blood Viscosity, Physicist Discovers

June 8, 2011

If a person's blood becomes too thick it can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attacks. But a Temple University physicist has discovered that he can thin the human blood by subjecting it to a magnetic field.

Rongjia Tao, professor and chair of physics at Temple University, has pioneered the use of electric or magnetic fields to decrease the viscosity of oil in engines and pipelines. Now, he is using the same magnetic fields to thin human blood in the circulation system.

Because red blood cells contain iron, Tao has been able to reduce a person's blood viscosity by 20-30 percent by subjecting it to a magnetic field of 1.3 Telsa (about the same as an MRI) for about one minute.

Tao and his collaborator tested numerous blood samples in a Temple lab and found that the magnetic field polarizes the red blood cells causing them to link together in short chains, streamlining the movement of the blood. Because these chains are larger than the single blood cells, they flow down the center, reducing the friction against the walls of the blood vessels. The combined effects reduce the viscosity of the blood, helping it to flow more freely.


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