Magnetic fields could help prevent heart attacks


June 9, 2011

A diagram depicting Tao's system for thinning blood using magnetic fields (Image: Temple University)

A diagram depicting Tao's system for thinning blood using magnetic fields (Image: Temple University)

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Overly-viscous blood can damage blood vessels and lead to heart attacks. Therefore, people who are at risk of heart attacks take medications such as Aspirin, in order to thin their blood. Such drugs can have unpleasant side effects, however, and can only be taken a certain number of times per day. Prof. Rongjia Tao, a physicist from Philadelphia's Temple University, now thinks he might have come up with a better way of thinning human blood - he subjects it to magnetic fields.

Tao had previously researched the use of magnetism for decreasing the viscosity of oil in engines and pipelines. Because blood contains iron, it turns out that it, too, becomes more fluid when magnetized.

In lab tests, Tao and Temple collaborator Ke "Colin" Huang subjected human blood samples to a magnetic field of 1.3 Telsa (roughly equivalent to an MRI) for approximately one minute. This polarized the red blood cells, which caused them to link together into short chains. These chains, because they are larger than single cells, tend to flow down the middle of blood vessels, instead of creating friction by moving against the inner walls. All told, he was able to decrease the viscosity of the samples by 20 to 30 percent.

The blood did return to its original viscosity once the magnetic field was removed, although it took several hours to do so. It is apparently safe to repeat the treatment over and over, however, as the function of the red blood cells does not appear to be affected.

"By selecting a suitable magnetic field strength and pulse duration, we will be able to control the size of the aggregated red-cell chains, hence to control the blood's viscosity," said Tao. "This method of magneto-rheology provides an effective way to control the blood viscosity within a selected range."

More work is required, although Tao hopes to ultimately make the treatment available as a preventative therapy.

The research is being published in the journal Physical Review E.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

This looks awesome. Of course requiring an MRI equivalent magnet is bad those things are crazy expensive to buy and operate. I can\'t wait to see improvements to this tech.

Joel Joines

Fascinating. Since viscosity in a liquid depends mainly on Van Der Waals forces, it would seem that by linking them he has decreased them. I\'d love to hear a chemist\'s molecule level explanation of how this occurs.


patients with pacemakers?

Hoodoo Yootink

It\'s awesome to see stories of this nature. Finally science is (if what very slowly) catching up with what millions and millions of people already know is fact. Magnetic therapy has been used in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. Unfortunately for the west if the medical establishment are unable to make alot of money from such natural phenomenons then as we see time and time again, such natural therapies are rubbished.

Centuries ago, such people with the real answers to our cures of illness were burned at the stake. So, basically we are still 400 years behind where man-kind should be in the fight for a healthy life.

There are many companies already pedalling magnets and the majority work.

However there is only one company in this world that produces a magnet which \'mimics\' that of the \'Tens\" machine and probably the MRI magnet also.

It\'s affordable and guaranteed. Oh, the company is from Saltash, England.

Very seldom we come across BRAVE enough scientist that undertake this kind of research so I must congratulate him but to claim that it is a new discovery is only a new discovery for the small select group of his peers whom seem to believe that they can dictate to the rest of us what works and what doesn\'t.

The techology required to prove these theories, cost millions and millions of dollars and so they will always be theories and unscientifically proven and rubbished as snake oil, yet you ask anyone that wears one (a wrist magnet) whether it works. The answer will always be an absolute, \"YES!\"

Of course the easiest way to reduce heart attacks is to eat proper nutritious food but of course we all know that. So what\'s the problem?

Ken. NZ


Joel: The energy required to create a magnetic field is proportional to both field strength and volume of affected area. Since this is not a stable field magnet, and may not require a large machine, the magnets might not be very expensive after all. However, I wonder about the effectiveness of this method on the real system of the body, where blood goes in a lot of directions.

Ken: -THE- technological breakthrough that has literally taken us from the dark ages, where even in peace life expectancy was about 30 years, to the modern world, where people regularly live into their hundreds, is the use of evidence rather than belief and tradition to test claims. As such, I think it\'s pretty reasonable to ask that people who, say, claim that magnets reduce pain, provide evidence supporting this claim. Scattered individual testimony doesn\'t really mean much when people can\'t tell whether they are wearing a magnet or not when you do a broad based study. That doesn\'t mean people should never go back and revisit the idea, but I for one would rather devote my time, money, and education to finding things that cause real improvements in the world, not silly stories from the gullible. If you think I\'m wrong then maybe we can shake a guinea pig to death to settle it, or you can stick pins in a doll that looks like me until I relent. I\'ll even send you some fingernail clippings if you need them.

People shouldn\'t get murdered for being silly, but this world doesn\'t have infinite resources and we have more important things to do than to chase solutions that have already been shown not to work, at least until someone comes up with GOOD evidence (and maybe some reasoning) that gives society a reason to revisit old ideas.

Charles Bosse

IronMan has an electro magnet over his heart.

Perhaps that company in Saltash should start producing \'Ironman\' magnetic bling. Can\'t hurt anyone, unless they already have a pacemaker.

Could this be an Iphone app? Create a program to set the vibrator in a low oscilliting patern so that the electro magnets keep up a constant low energy magnetic field????

Think I\'ll go and sew some power magnets in my pockets meantime.


Karsten Evans

@ p j clemons: Blood is quite complex - it\'s not really a liquid - more a liquid with solids in it! At high flow speeds it behaves like liquid; when it slows down it gets more viscous. Also it only obeys the classical rules of liquid flow in the centre of the artery/veins - at the walls of the vessels there is a lot more friction, and the various bits of \'solid\' matter in the blood (red cells in particular) can seriously slow down as they interact with the walls - if they can be kept in the centre of the blood vessel everything flows better. I am in general a skeptic of wonder claims for magnets - however this, and the similar hard-water treatment one, seem like they might have some benefits.

Pat O'Leary

This could be hugely valuable to renal patient with cetain blood disorders (me) that cant use heparin as a clot preventer. I hope the techn ology keeps going until a real artificial kidney is discovered. My wife has used a magnet on her knee for many years and when not using it she can tell the difference.

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