Anemia may increase the risk of dementia, according to a study.
For the study, published July 31 on the website of the journal Neurology, 2,552 older adults ages 70 to 79 were tested for anemia and also underwent memory and thinking tests over 11 years. At the end of the study, 445 people, or about 18% of participants, developed dementia.
People who had anemia at the start of the study had a nearly 41% higher risk of developing dementia than those who were not anemic, according to the study data. The link remained after considering factors such as age, race, sex and education, the researchers reported.
Of the 393 people with anemia, 89, or 23%, developed dementia, compared with 366, or 17%, of the 2,159 people who did not have anemia.
Study author Kristine Yaffe, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, said anemia occurs in up to 23% of adults ages 65 and older. She noted several possible explanations for the association with dementia.
“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,” Yaffe said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology, which publishes the journal. “Reductions in oxygen to the brain have been shown to reduce memory and thinking abilities and may contribute to damage to neurons.”
Study abstract: http://neurology.org/content/early/2013/07/31/WNL.0b013e31829e701d.