Anemia linked to increased risk of dementia

July 31, 2013

Anemia, or low levels of red blood cells, may increase the risk of dementia, according to a study published in the July 31, 2013, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of 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, MD, with the University of California – San Francisco and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "The condition has also been linked in studies to an increased risk of early death."

For the study, 2,552 between the ages of 70-79 were tested for 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. For example, anemia may be a marker for in general, or low 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," said Yaffe.

Explore further: Anemia may more than triple your risk of dying after a stroke

Related Stories

Severe anemia linked to poorer heart surgery outcomes

October 3, 2012

(HealthDay)—Adults undergoing cardiac surgery who have moderate-to-severe preoperative anemia have significantly increased morbidity and mortality compared with non-severely anemic patients, according to research published ...

Recommended for you

Human neuron transplants treat spinal cord injury in mice

September 23, 2016

Chronic pain and loss of bladder control are among the most devastating consequences of spinal cord injury, rated by many patients as a higher priority for treatment than paralysis or numbness. Now a UC San Francisco team ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.