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This Blood Type Puts You at Risk for Dementia

People with a certain blood type are at greater risk.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The progressive brain disorder known as dementia is unfortunately becoming more common. That's simply because the number one risk factor is advancing age, and more of us are living longer. But there are things you can do to lower your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The first step is being aware if you have higher odds of developing the disease. Research has found that people with a certain blood type are at greater risk. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

This Blood Type Poses Highest Risk

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According to a study published in the journal Neurology, people with blood type AB are 82 percent more likely to develop thinking and memory problems that can lead to dementia than people with other blood types. 

The potential culprit: Factor VII, a protein that helps blood to clot. People with AB blood have a higher average level of factor VII than people with other blood types, and high levels of factor VII are associated with a higher risk of dementia.

Factor VII makes blood "stickier," or more likely to clot. Having too little Factor VII means blood doesn't clot effectively; that's the case in people with hemophilia. But having too much is dangerous too—blood that clots too easily can lead to heart attack and stroke.

But experts have said that people with type AB blood shouldn't be overly worried; there are bigger risks for dementia than blood type—such as obesity and smoking—and the Neurology study was small and has yet to be confirmed by more extensive research. 

2

Other Risks of Type AB Blood

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Having AB type blood is rare. In fact, the least common blood type in the U.S. Only about 4 percent of Americans have type AB blood.

Having type AB blood has been shown to carry a higher risk of stomach and pancreatic cancer. AB blood has also been linked to a higher risk of symptomatic and severe COVID-19. Northwestern Medicine advises that if you have type AB blood, you should emphasize cancer-fighting foods, such as fruits and vegetables, in your diet. 

3

What Is Dementia?

older man with dementia talking to doctor
Shutterstock / Robert Kneschke

Dementia is a category of brain disorders that involve changes to memory, thinking, personality, and judgment. Ultimately, these changes interfere with a person's ability to function independently. Most cases of dementia are diagnosed in people older than 65. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting about 6.2 million Americans. 

4

Other Risks for Dementia

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Experts aren't sure why some older people develop dementia and others don't. The major riisk factors for dementia include:

  • Age
  • A family history of dementia
  • An unhealthy lifestyle (poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol use, obesity)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Head injury
  • Social isolation or a lack of cognitive engagement

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael