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Using magnets to thin blood

June 8, 2011

Physicists at Temple University have discovered that they can temporarily reduce the viscosity of human blood by subjecting it to a magnetic field.

The physicists tested numerous blood samples in a Temple lab and found that a magnetic field of 1.3 Telsa (about the same as an MRI) for about one minute causes the red blood cells to link together in short chains, streamlining the movement of the blood.

Because these chains are longer 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.

When the magnetic field was taken away, the blood’s original viscosity state slowly returned over a period of several hours.

Their work is being published in the journal Physical Review E.

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