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People with AB Blood Type at Higher Risk of Dementia

Sep 11, 2014 02:49 AM EDT
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A new study has found that people with AB blood type are more likely to face memory-related problems later in life than others. The research shows that blood type might be an indicator for future dementia risk.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington. The team found that people with AB blood type were 82 percent more likely to suffer from dementia in old age than people with other blood types.

Only about four percent of people in the U.S. have AB blood type. Other studies have shown that people with 'O' blood type are at a lower risk of stroke and heart diseases. The researchers in the study tried to find if blood type affected cognitive performance.

"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 study author Mary Cushman, of the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, according to a news release. "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."

Data for the study came from the Reasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke, or REGARDS, Study. Around 30,000 participants were followed for an average of 3.4 years. During the course of the study, 495 participants developed cognitive problems. The researchers compared the health profile of these patients with that of 587 people with no history of mental problems.

According to the researchers, a protein called factor VIII helps blood to clot. Higher levels of this protein are associated with increased risk of dementia and thinking problems. In the study, people with high levels of protein were 24 percent more likely to develop cognitive impairments. The researchers said that AB blood type people had above-average levels of the protein.

The study is published in the journal Neurology.

Related research on blood type has shown that people with A, B or AB blood types are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than people with O blood type. 

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