Researchers found that one blood type is partially responsible for the development of dementia. The risk exists for only four percent of the population – the ones with the AB type, as they are more prone to developing memory problems. However, people with AB blood type should not be too worried, as the blood type is only a minor predictor for the disease development. Environmental factors count for much more than the blood type.
Dr. Mary Cushman from University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington conducted a study leading to these results. Around 30.000 patients of 45 and older were given tests to assess their memory and thinking skills. A number of 495 people who shown serious problems in solving the tests were selected out of the larger group. They were compared with 587 people who have not displayed any cognitive problems. Further differences in age, race, sex and location were taken into account during the analysis.
Researchers found that 6 percent of those presenting cognitive problems had AB blood type. This is 2 percent more than what is usually found in the general population.
“Our study looks at blood type and risk of cognitive impairment, but several studies have shown that factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes increase the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia,” said Dr Cushman. “Blood type is also related to other vascular conditions like stroke, so the findings highlight the connections between vascular issues and brain health. More research is needed to confirm these results.”
Dr. Cushman says that although this is an important finding, people with AB blood type do not have to worry. A couple of lifestyle changes can dramatically decrease the risk of developing dementia – quit smoking, exercise and lose weight.
Unfortunately, the AB blood type can cause other problems too, because of the different clotting characteristics. Dr. Cushman and her team discovered in a previous research that AB blood type and higher stroke risks are linked. Thus, a healthy lifestyle is even more important for people with AB blood type. More information is needed to confirm these discoveries. Until then, people with all types of blood are advised by Dr. Cushman to regularly check up on their blood pressure and blood sugar, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The results of this study were published online in Neurology journal on September 10.