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Are Blood Type and Dementia related?

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One study found that your blood type could raise your risk of developing dementia.

Might your blood type and dementia be related?

Losing your memory as you age may seem like a sad inevitability. However, dementia doesn’t impact everyone. In fact, many people make it through older age without ever experiencing the loss of their memory and other cognitive functions.

Since there are so many different dementia and potential risk factors, it’s hard to say what causes it. However, one study found that blood type could raise a person’s chance of developing dementia.

Yahoo News’s recent article entitled “If You Have This Blood Type, Your Dementia Risk Is High, Study Says” reports that you are more likely to develop dementia if you have blood type AB.

A 2014 study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, discovered a link between blood type and dementia. The researchers for the study—which was part of a larger study of more than 30,000 individuals monitored for more than three years—identified 495 participants who developed thinking and memory problems during the study. They compared them to 587 people who experienced no cognitive impairment. The researchers found that those with blood type AB were 82% more apt to develop thinking and memory problems that can lead to dementia than those with other blood types. Scientists say that this could be from a protein that people with AB blood are more likely to have.

The researchers also examined the blood levels of factor VIII. It’s a protein that helps with blood clotting. The study found that those with high levels of factor VIII protein were also at a higher risk of dementia—they were 24% more likely to develop thinking and memory problems than people with lower levels of this protein. The study co-author Kristine Alexander, Ph.D., a medical policy research analyst for Cambia Health Solutions, said that those with AB blood have the highest levels of factor VIII—nearly 40% higher than those with blood type O. In addition, those with AB blood also have a higher risk of stroke, which can lead to dementia.

Another study conducted by the same group of researchers—and part of the same larger study—found in 2014 that compared with blood type O, blood type AB was linked to an increased risk of stroke, while blood type A and B weren’t. According to WebMD, people who have had a stroke are far more likely to develop dementia than people who haven’t. Roughly one in four people who’ve had a stroke will go on to develop signs of dementia.

Blood type is also linked to other vascular conditions like stroke, so the findings emphasize the connections between vascular issues and brain health. However, blood type AB is the least common blood type. If you don’t know your blood type, there’s a good chance that you don’t have blood type AB. The American Red Cross says that AB is the least common blood type in the U.S.—less than 1% of Americans have AB negative blood, and less than 4% have AB positive blood. In comparison, about 43% of Americans have type O blood.

However, there is no reason to panic if you have blood type AB, Alexander said. Several lifestyle factors can decrease your risk of cognitive problems and dementia, and many of them have more of an impact than your blood type. She said that a good diet and exercise are two healthy lifestyle choices that “are important for both cardiovascular and brain health.” She also said that “keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar under control will also lower your risk for these problems.”

Those suggestions are good advice for us all, as is having your affairs to prepare if you eventually suffer from memory issues. Planning for this painful possibility is part of life, like having proper agents to help with financial and health decisions.

Reference: Yahoo News (April 4, 2021) “If You Have This Blood Type, Your Dementia Risk Is High, Study Says”