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5 misconceptions stopping people from donating blood

11/8/2022 10:00

Many people are willing to donate blood but think they are unsuitable donors. For example, medicines to treat hypertension and cholesterol do not prevent anyone from donating blood. The Blood Service has listed five things people often ask – or are afraid to ask.

​In Finland, about 3.5% of people in the donating age range donate blood. A much larger percentage could donate blood. However, there are some restrictions. These are to ensure the safety of the blood donor or the patient receiving the blood product.

“The requirements for donating blood change as we gain new knowledge and treatments evolve. In recent years, it has been possible to significantly reduce several obstacles to donation. Many people would be surprised to learn that their medication would not stop them from helping,” says Riikka Lehtisalo, Specialist Physician at the Blood Service. 

Antihypertensives

High blood pressure is very common in Finland, and antihypertensives are among the most common forms of long-term medication. Hypertension and the medication for it are not obstacles to blood donation if the blood pressure can be managed with drug therapy. 

If you have just started taking antihypertensives, you should wait at least two weeks before donating blood. This is to allow your body to get used to the effect of the drug. 

Cholesterol medications

Medical treatments for high cholesterol are also very common in Finland. High cholesterol or the use of cholesterol medication do not prevent blood donation. 

However, if you began cholesterol therapy due to an event such as a cardiac infarction, disorder of the cerebral circulation or diagnosed coronary artery disease, these cardiovascular diseases prevent blood donation.

Anti-inflammatory drugs

Anti-inflammatory drugs do not prevent normal blood donation. However, the symptom treated by the anti-inflammatory may affect blood donation. For example, you cannot donate blood while suffering from a headache. 

Antidepressants

Antidepressants do not prevent normal blood donation. However, some prevent the donation of platelets. Sleeping pills and drugs that help you get to sleep are not obstacles to blood donation. 

If you begin taking regular antidepressants, you should wait at least one month before donating blood.

Erectile dysfunction drugs, hormonal preparations and contraceptives

Erectile dysfunction or the medication for it do not prevent blood donation.

Contraceptives such as contraceptive pills, intra-uterine devices and hormone preparations to treat menopausal symptoms are not obstacles to blood donation.

Take an online test to determine whether you would be a suitable blood donor

You can check whether you can be a donor at canidonate.fi. For more information about whether you can donate blood, use the Blood Service website, the Pisara chatbot (in Finnish), and the free phone service for blood donors, tel. 0800 05801 (Mon–Fri 8:00–17:00). 

You can try donating blood for the first time if you are aged between 18 and 59.

  • Blood can be donated at ten Blood Service units and at donation events across Finland.

  • Make an appointment to donate blood here.