Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Decreased Red Blood Cells May Be Associated With Dementia, Study Finds

A study reported in Neurology finds that anemia appears to be linked to dementia. Kristine Yaffe, M.D., the Roy and Marie Scola Endowed Chair of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed medical records of 2,552 adults aged 70 to 79 to assess the likelihood of dementia onset in anemia patients. The patients—who were all free of dementia at the study's onset—were  divided in to two groups: those with and without anemia.

The seniors with anemia had a 40% higher risk of developing dementia than their counterparts without anemia. The association remained significant even after adjusting for common factors such as race, sex, and education level that are linked with dementia risk.

"There are several explanations for why anemia may be linked to 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. Reductions in oxygen to the brain have been shown to reduce memory and thinking abilities and may contribute to damage to neurons," said Yaffe.

For more information on causes of dementia, see Psychiatric News here and here.

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