A new study finds that people with blood type AB, about 4% of the population, may have an increased risk for memory problems as they age. Over a three year study, those with blood type AB were almost twice as likely to experience memory problems as those with type O blood. Those with blood type AB should not panic however, as risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise increase the risk of dementia much higher.
In the study, 30,000 individuals aged 45 and older were given a series of memory and thinking tests and then tested again 3 years later. After making demographic adjustments, those with blood type AB were 82% more likely to have impaired memory and thinking skills than those with type O blood.
Researchers don’t find these results particularly surprising as it is already known that blood type AB affects blood clotting and increases the risk of blood vessel-related conditions. Those with blood type AB have a higher risk of stroke because of higher levels of clotting factor VIII in type AB blood, the protein that helps blood clot to stop bleeding. Too much of this protein potentially leads to heart attacks, strokes, or clots in veins.
Dr. Mary Cushman, a professor of hematology at the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine, says those with AB blood type shouldn’t be overly worried as the association was small and requires further study. She said it’s more important to strive for a healthy lifestyle regardless of blood type which includes:
• Not smoking
• Exercising regularly
• Maintaining a healthy diet
• Keeping up with preventative care
• Staying ‘cognitively active’ through reading and puzzles