There are a lot of factors that can contribute to a person’s risk of developing dementia, ranging from traumatic brain injury to genetics and health indicators such as blood pressure, cardiovascular health and, according to recent studies, blood type.
Most people are aware of their blood type in case of an emergency; however, it also can help determine your susceptibility to conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stress.
Blood types are determined by looking at various types of blood cells which respond differently to foreign substances, thus triggering immune responses. As a result, every blood type tends to be resistant to one type of disease but vulnerable to another.
The four main blood groups you hear about include types A, B, O and AB. But the Rh factor, which is commonly referred to as positive or negative, also plays a role. Knowing your blood type can help you understand conditions you’re predisposed to and aid in prevention of disease, usually involving alterations to diet and lifestyle.
What Blood Type is Prone to Dementia?
A study supported by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was published in the journal Neurology, unveiling correlations between blood type AB and experiencing symptoms of dementia. While only around 4 % of the population has AB blood types, those populations are 82% more likely to experience thinking and memory problems that lead to dementia.
The study examined previous research of more than 30,000 people over a three-and-a-half-year period of time during which participants were tested on cognitive function. Measuring verbal fluency, short term memory, orientation and the ability to learn a short list of words, researchers looked for signs of cognitive decline in subjects.
At the end, significant cognitive decline developed in 495 people. Of those, many were AB blood types.
Two potential reasons for this were listed. The first involves the predisposition of AB blood types toward cardiovascular issues. There is a good amount of scientific evidence that connects issues of the heart to brain health, so this correlation only seems natural.
The second connection researchers discovered came down to levels of factor VIII- a protein that facilitates the clotting of blood. AB blood types produce more of it and the research shows that those with higher levels of the protein were 24% more likely to develop thinking and memory problems.
Connections to Gray Matter
Gray matter is an important element of the central nervous system, making up neuron cell bodies and brain cells known as glial cells. A study published in Brain Research Bulletin analyzed the results of 189 Magentic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans from healthy volunteers. Looking at the amount of gray matter in present in different regions of the brain, they were able to correlate it with blood type and risk of dementia.
As it turns out, people with blood type O boast higher levels of gray matter in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that receives information from sensory systems. The researchers believe that this may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases progression as the cerebellum is more closely tied to healthy cognitive function than once thought.
“The findings seem to indicate that people who have an ‘O’ blood type are more protected against the diseases in which volume reduction is seen in temporal and mediotemporal regions of the brain like with Alzheimer’s disease, “ said Dr. Matteo De Marco, lead researcher on the study at the University of Sheffield in England, when the study was released.