People with AB Blood Type Face Higher Risk of Memory Problems in Later Life, Study

First Posted: Sep 11, 2014 07:13 AM EDT

Researchers of a new study have provided evidence that the blood type of people greatly influences their memory in later years.

The study, led by the American Academy of Neurology, found that those with AB blood type are at a higher risk of memory loss in later years when compared to people with other blood types. They based their finding on the evaluation of data retrieved from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke or REGARDS study that included over 30,000 people.

Human blood is grouped into four types: A, B, AB and O; and AB is the rarest blood type. At least four percent of the U.S. population have this blood group. In this study, the participants were followed for an average of 3.4 years. Nearly 495 participants, who had no memory or thinking problems at the beginning of the study, developed memory or thinking problems  and cognitive impairment during the course of the study. They were then compared to 587 people with no cognitive problems.

The researchers noticed that those with AB blood type were 82 percent more likely than people of other blood types to develop thinking and memory problems that further led to dementia. Studies conducted earlier showed that people with O blood type had a reduced risk of heart diseases and stroke, factors that up the risk of memory loss and dementia.

In this study, those with AB blood type made 6 percent of the group and they developed cognitive impairment.

"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, MD, MSc, of the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington. "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."

The finding was documented in the online issue of Neurology.

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