Can You Donate Plasma With High Cholesterol?


Matthew McClain

The answer is yes, we can give blood even when we have high cholesterol. 

Is High Cholesterol A Barrier To Plasma Donation?

Many people with high cholesterol wonder if they can still donate plasma. The good news is that high cholesterol alone is typically not an absolute barrier to plasma donation. Plasma centers evaluate potential donors on a case-by-case basis, considering their medical history and current health.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood. High cholesterol refers to having too much “bad” LDL cholesterol and not enough “good” HDL cholesterol. This imbalance can lead to health issues like heart disease and stroke.

Plasma centers aim to ensure the safety of donors and recipients. While they may accept donors with high cholesterol, precautions are often put in place:

  • Frequent screening – Donors with high cholesterol undergo more frequent health screenings and lab tests to monitor their condition.
  • Lower donation frequency – They may only be allowed to donate plasma every two weeks instead of weekly to give the body time to replenish plasma proteins.
  • Close supervision – During each donation, these donors are monitored more closely for any adverse reactions.
  • Medication adjustments – Some medications used to treat high cholesterol, like statins, may need to be stopped temporarily before donation to avoid potential drug interactions.

Plasma centers focus on admitting donors with “well-controlled” high cholesterol. This means their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels have been lowered to target levels through diet, exercise and medications if needed. Uncontrolled high cholesterol puts donors at higher risk for health issues, so most centers avoid accepting these donors.

In summary, while having high cholesterol itself does not automatically disqualify you from donating plasma, centers often impose extra precautions and more stringent screening for these donors to ensure their safety and the safety of plasma recipients. Following a healthy lifestyle and keeping cholesterol under control through medical treatment remains crucial.

Risks And Precautions For Donors With High Cholesterol

1. Risks For Donors With High Cholesterol

People with high cholesterol who want to donate plasma face some increased risks. Plasma donation centers implement precautions for these donors to minimize health risks and ensure safety.

The main risk is that donors with uncontrolled high cholesterol are more prone to medical issues during or after plasma donation. People with high cholesterol often have narrower or blocked arteries. This makes them more susceptible to health problems like:

  • Blood clots: High cholesterol can cause clots to form more easily in the arteries. Removing plasma through donation may slightly increase this risk.
  • Cardiac events: The physical stress of donation can potentially trigger a heart attack or stroke in people with severe artery blockage.
  • Low blood pressure: Removing plasma can lower blood volume and slightly reduce blood pressure. For donors with unstable high cholesterol, this may become an issue.

2. Precautions For Donors With High Cholesterol

To mitigate these risks, donation centers focus on accepting donors with well-managed high cholesterol levels. Precautions are also implemented:

  • Frequent health screenings: Donors undergo more frequent full physical exams and blood tests to monitor cholesterol levels and detect any potential complications.
  • Lower donation frequency: Donating plasma less often (every 2-3 weeks instead of weekly) allows the body time to replenish plasma proteins and cells lost during donation.
  • Close monitoring: Nurses observe donors with high cholesterol more closely during each plasma donation session to watch for any negative reactions or symptoms.
  • Medication adjustments: Some cholesterol-lowering drugs need to be paused before donation to avoid interactions with the donation process. Doctors provide specific instructions to these donors.
  • Deferred donors: People with severely uncontrolled high cholesterol levels that put them at very high risk are often deferred from donating plasma altogether.

In summary, while high cholesterol itself may not disqualify donors, plasma centers recognize these individuals as a high-risk group. Precautions aim to minimize health risks for donors with high cholesterol through regular screening, lower donation frequencies, closer monitoring and medication adjustments as needed. The focus is on accepting only well-managed cases.

Can Donating Plasma Lower Cholesterol?

Some people wonder if donating plasma can help lower high cholesterol levels over time. However, the evidence does not strongly support this idea.

When you donate plasma, only the liquid part of your blood is collected. This liquid, called plasma, contains various proteins and cells but does not hold on to cholesterol for long.

So while removing some plasma through donation may temporarily take out a small amount of cholesterol from the bloodstream, there are no significant long-term effects on cholesterol levels. Any lowering effects are minor and short-lived.

Within a few days or weeks after donating plasma, cholesterol levels generally return to previous readings. Donating plasma on a regular basis does not produce sustained reductions in LDL (“bad”) or total cholesterol numbers.

The factors that truly impact and control cholesterol levels are:

  • Diet: Eating a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can lower LDL cholesterol by up to 20%.
  • Weight: Losing excess weight through a healthy diet and exercise often results in lower triglyceride and higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.
  • Medications: Statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs prescribed by doctors remain the most effective long-term treatment for high cholesterol.

Compared to these strategies, donating plasma has not proven to be an effective cholesterol remedy. While plasma donation provides other health benefits and helps save lives, it should not be viewed as a primary solution for high cholesterol.

In summary, any cholesterol lowering from plasma donation is minor and temporary. A healthier diet, weight loss and cholesterol medications typically have a much greater impact on managing high cholesterol over time. So focus your efforts there rather than on regular plasma donation if you wish to improve your cholesterol profile long-term.


1. Can people with high cholesterol levels donate blood?

Having high cholesterol alone does not disqualify you from donating blood or plasma. Donation centers evaluate potential donors on a case-by-case basis considering their medical history and current health. Donors with well-controlled high cholesterol within target ranges are typically accepted.

2. Is there a limit on cholesterol levels to donate plasma?

There are no strict limits on cholesterol levels to donate plasma. Donation centers focus more on donors having well-controlled cholesterol – whether through diet, exercise, medication, or a combination. Uncontrolled high cholesterol may lead to deferral due to higher health risks.

3. How does donating plasma affect cholesterol?

Donating plasma has a minor and temporary effect on cholesterol levels. Only the plasma part of blood is collected during donation, which does not hold on to cholesterol for long. Cholesterol levels generally return to normal within weeks after donating. There is little evidence plasma donation significantly impacts cholesterol long-term.

4. What happens if I have high cholesterol and donate plasma?

If you have high cholesterol, donation centers will likely monitor you more closely and impose precautions like lower donation frequencies and more health screenings. The main risk is that uncontrolled high cholesterol makes you prone to issues like blood clots during or after donation. However, with proper management of your condition, donation should be safe.

5. Why is high cholesterol a problem for plasma donation?

High cholesterol can increase risks like blood clots and cardiac events during or after plasma donation. This is because people with high cholesterol often have narrow or blocked arteries, putting extra strain on the heart during donation. Precautions aim to mitigate these risks, but donors with uncontrolled high cholesterol are often deferred due to the higher health risks involved.

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