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One of the many benefits of blood donation is the “mini-physical” you receive every time you donate. To ensure you are able to give blood on the day you come see us, we take your vitals (blood pressure, pulse, temperature) and measure the level of your hemoglobin to ensure it’s high enough for you to safely give blood. After your donation, we perform tests in our laboratory and then share your blood type, total cholesterol results and your vitals with you in your confidential donor account.

We’re so grateful for your precious gift of life-sustaining blood and willingness to share your good health with patients in need. Here’s more information to help you stay informed and well.

Blood Type

Blood is grouped into four types: A, B, AB and O. Each type is also classified by an Rh factor–either positive or negative. Your ABO blood grouping and Rh factor are inherited from your parents.

Learn more about blood types and the components of blood that are optimal for patients.


Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body and gives blood its red color. Normal hemoglobin values are generally within the following ranges for most, but not all, healthy people:

  • Men: 13.3 – 17.1 g/dL
  • Women: 12.4 – 16.6 g/dL

The hemoglobin values for Black men and women may be as much as 0.9 g/dL lower. Normal lower limits also decline with age.

Hemoglobin values below the normal range may be due to many health conditions including iron deficiency, low folate or B-12, abnormal types of hemoglobin, kidney disease, bleeding, hypothyroidism and other medical conditions. Hemoglobin values above the normal range may be seen in people living at high altitudes, smokers, people taking testosterone, in polycythemia vera and in other medical conditions.

We recommend that frequent blood donors take a multivitamin with iron or an iron supplement to replace the iron lost during blood donation. If you choose to take iron supplements, you should discuss options with your health care provider or pharmacist. Donors are not allowed to donate if their hemoglobin level is less than 12.5 g/dL for women and 13.0 g/dL for men.

Blood Pressure

When the heart beats, or contracts, it pumps blood into blood vessels called arteries that carry blood throughout the body. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the artery walls and is reported as two numbers.

The higher number is the systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The lower number is the diastolic pressure, which is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. For example if your blood pressure is read as "115 over 75," your systolic blood pressure is 115 and your diastolic blood pressure is 75. This is usually written as "115/75."

A normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body and is the most common risk factor for heart disease. Early detection and taking steps to control your blood pressure can reduce this risk.

The American Heart Association defines blood pressure categories as:

Normal: Systolic is less than 120 and Diastolic is less than 80
Elevated: Systolic is 120 to 129 and Diastolic is less than 80
High Blood Pressure (Stage 1): Systolic is 130 to 139 or Diastolic is 80 to 89
High Blood Pressure (Stage 2): Systolic is 140 or higher or Diastolic is 90 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis: Systolic is higher than 180 and/or Diastolic is higher than 120
Your doctor should evaluate unusually low or high blood pressure readings.

For more information, visit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Pulse Rate

Your pulse, or heart rate, is the number of times your heart beats each minute. A normal heart rate for an adult is about 60 to 100 beats per minute. However, it is normal for athletes to have lower heart rates. And, it is normal for your pulse to be faster when you exercise, have a fever or are under stress.

As your heart pumps blood through your body, you can feel your pulse in some of the arteries close to the skin’s surface, such as your wrist or neck. You can check your own pulse by counting the number of beats you feel at these points for 20 seconds then multiplying that number by three.

Your pulse does not indicate high or low blood pressure; however, if your pulse is too high please talk to your doctor about it.


The normal body temperature of a person varies depending on gender, recent exercise, hot or cold food and fluid consumption, time of day (lowest in the morning and higher later in the day), and, in women, the stage of the menstrual cycle. Although most people consider 98.6 F (measured under the tongue) to be normal, body temperature can vary by a degree or more — from about 97 F to 99.5 F— and still be considered normal.

A fever is a high body temperature and can be seen in infections (viral or bacterial), heat exposure or heat exhaustion, inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and others) and other medical conditions.

Donors are required to have a temperature equal to or less than 99.5 F to be sure they don’t have an infection that could be transmitted to an ill blood recipient.


Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in all cells of the body. Having some cholesterol is beneficial because your body needs it to make such things as hormones and vitamins. However, people with too much cholesterol are at risk for heart disease and stroke because it can build up in the walls of the arteries. The cholesterol tests performed by your physician are more extensive and are typically done after fasting for 12 hours. Vitalant uses a single test, measuring  “total cholesterol.” This changes minimally in response to normal food intake, giving you a good general idea of your cholesterol levels.

The American Heart Association categorizes total blood cholesterol levels as:

In people 16 to 19 years old:
  • Desirable - less than 170 mg/dL
  • Borderline High Risk - 170 to 199 mg/dL
  • High Risk - 200 mg/dL and over
In people ages 20 and older:
  • Desirable - less than 200 mg/dL
  • Borderline High Risk - 200 to 239 mg/dL
  • High Risk - 240 mg/dL and over

Please share your high cholesterol result with your health care provider for further testing and treatment options.

For more information, click on the following links:

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention