Skip to main content

Make Blood Donation More Comfortable

Say Goodbye to Fainting When Donating Blood

Are you a first-time donor and worried about fainting during your blood donation? Have you donated before and felt faint during the donation process? Some donors deal with uncomfortable symptoms like feeling dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous. These symptoms are often caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate, known as a vasovagal reaction. Some studies suggest that a series of simple exercises, called applied muscle tension (AMT), can reduce these symptoms.

What is Applied Muscle Tension (AMT)

Applied muscle tension is a series of exercises that may prevent a drop in blood pressure during a triggering event – for most donors, this is when the needle goes in and when it comes out. It can also be used whenever a donor feels faint, including during the donation, standing up after the donation, or in the recovery area. 

You’ll be asked to:

  1. Cross your legs
  2. Squeeze your knees and tense your abdominal muscles for five seconds
  3. Relax for five seconds
  4. Repeat the process 

See how AMT works in this video.

These simple exercises can increase a donor’s blood pressure within two to three seconds and help prevent the occurrence of vasovagal symptoms. In addition to using this technique when the needle is going in or coming out, you can start AMT anytime you begin to experience symptoms.

The American Red Cross strives to make each donation appointment a pleasant experience so that you’re excited to schedule again. AMT offers a way to minimize unwanted symptoms, creating a less stressful donation.

If you’re worried about fainting during the donation process, you aren’t alone. Here are some additional tips or the day of your donation:

  • Drink an extra 16 oz. of water (or other nonalcoholic drink) before your appointment.
  • Eat a healthy meal, avoiding fatty foods like hamburgers, fries or ice cream.
  • Wear a shirt with sleeves that you can roll up above your elbows.
  • Let us know if you have a preferred arm or particular vein that has been used successfully in the past to draw blood.
  • Relax, listen to music, talk to other donors or read while you donate.

Check out Ava Arteaga’s story about donating for the first time. 

To access the full article on using AMT to prevent fainting during blood donating, click here.

In partnership with the YMCA, Hally Health focuses on a variety of topics aimed at people of any age or fitness level who want to stay healthy and active. Try this Mini Tabata workout that’s sure to get your heart pumping. To view all our YMCA partnership fitness videos throughout the month, please visit or