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If You Have This in Your Blood You Are at Risk of Dementia

Your blood type may have real implications for your health.

The progressive brain disorder known as dementia remains one of the most mysterious disorders—researchers aren't sure why some people get it, how to prevent it, or how to cure it. But in recent years, science has uncovered some intriguing clues, including some red flags in the blood that may indicate an increased risk of dementia. Several are within your power to change. 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.


Certain Metabolic Compounds

Asian microbiologist biotechnology researcher using microscope in the lab.

In September, Japanese researchers published findings that 33 metabolic compounds in the blood are different in people with dementia than in older people with normal cognition. These compounds may lead to brain impairment, and they might help isolate a cause of dementia or enable better diagnostic testing.


Toxic Fat-Protein Complexes

Brain impulses, thinking process

In a study published this fall in the journal PLOS Biology, Australian researchers said they may have identified a potential cause of Alzheimer's disease. The animal study found that excessive toxic fat-protein complexes in the blood can damage small blood vessels in the brain and leak into the organ itself, causing inflammation and killing brain cells. Making dietary changes or taking medications could reduce the amount of these toxins in the blood, potentially reducing Alzheimer's risk or slowing the disease's progression, the study's lead author said.

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This Blood Type

A male scientist/doctor holding a test tube marked Blood Test with group AB circled.

According to a 2014 study published in 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.

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High Cholesterol

high cholesterol

In a study published last summer in Lancet Healthy Longevity, researchers found that high LDL ("bad") cholesterol may increase your risk of developing dementia later in life. Looking at health data from more than 1.8 million people over 40 who were followed for up to 23 years, scientists found that having a high LDL cholesterol level in middle age was associated with an increased risk of dementia more than a decade later.

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Overly High (or Overly Low) Blood Sugar

Doctor checking blood sugar level with glucometer. Treatment of diabetes concept.

Several studies have associated uncontrolled diabetes with an increased risk of dementia. One of the latest: A study published last June in the journal Neurology, which found that older people who have visited the hospital for high and low blood sugar events had six times the risk of developing dementia than people who had experienced neither. People who suffered only low blood sugar events had a 75% higher risk of dementia than people without the condition, and people with only high blood sugar events had more than twice the risk. "Our findings suggest that exposure to severe glycemic events may have long-term consequences on brain health and should be considered additional motivation for people with diabetes to avoid severe glycemic events throughout their lifetime," the study's lead author said. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael