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Anemia May Up Risk of Dementia

Anemia May Up Risk of Dementia Low levels of red blood cells, or anemia, can increase the risk of early death and elevate the chance of dementia in older adults.

The findings by University of California–San Francisco researchers are published in the online issue of the journal Neurology®.

“Anemia is common in the elderly and occurs in up to 23 percent of adults ages 65 and older,” said study author Kristine Yaffe, M.D. “The condition has also been linked in studies to an increased risk of early death.”

For the study, 2,552 older adults between the ages of 70-79 were tested for anemia and also underwent memory and thinking tests over 11 years.

Of those, 393 had anemia at the start of the study. At the end of the study, 445, or about 18 percent of participants, developed dementia.

The research found that people who had anemia at the start of the study had a nearly 41 percent higher risk of developing dementia than those who were not anemic.

The link remained after considering other factors, such as age, race, sex and education. Of the 393 people with anemia, 89 people, or 23 percent, developed dementia, compared to 366 of the 2,159 people who did not have anemia, or 17 percent.

There are several explanations for why anemia may be linked to dementia, according to Yaffe.

“For example, anemia may be a marker for poor health in general, or low oxygen levels resulting from anemia may play a role in the connection. Reductions in oxygen to the brain have been shown to reduce memory and thinking abilities and may contribute to damage to neurons,” she said.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Elderly man with eyes closed photo by shutterstock.

Anemia May Up Risk of Dementia

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Anemia May Up Risk of Dementia. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/08/02/anemia-may-up-risk-of-dementia/57926.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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