Researchers still haven’t pinned down what causes Alzheimer’s. It can be especially frustrating for families who’ve witnessed a loved one suffer with the disease. But scientists are increasingly convinced that it’s caused by a combination of events. While they don’t know how to prevent the disease, they now believe they have identified some potential risk factors.
One of those risk factors for Alzheimer’s may be anemia.
This is important because if anemia does eventually prove to be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s, it’s a condition that doctors can typically treat.
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
To grasp the importance of this, it might help to understand how ‘risk factors’ work.
Some of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s can be modified, while others, like family history, cannot. The anemia-Alzheimer’s link is important because anemia can be modified. In most cases, anemia is treatable.
At the moment, however, all we know is that anemia seems to be linked to Alzheimer’s. We do not have evidence that it actually plays a role in causing the disease.
Evidence for the Link Between Alzheimer’s and Anemia
In 2013, the medical journal Neurology published a landmark study. The study cited evidence of a link between anemia and an increased risk for dementia.
About 2,500 participants in their 70s were studied for over a decade. At the beginning of the study, they were tested for anemia, among other health conditions. Their levels of cognitive function were also measured.
At the end of the study, those who had tested positive for anemia at the outset were 40 to 50 percent more likely to have developed Alzheimer’s disease.
That’s a significant link, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t necessarily mean anemia causes Alzheimer’s. Nor does it mean just because someone has anemia, they will develop Alzheimer’s. It’s merely a link and researchers must study that link to find out why it exists.
What, Exactly, is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition which affects the red blood cells. They are unable to carry enough oxygen throughout the body. People with anemia often have low energy for this reason.
But when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, brain cells suffer. That’s where researchers say a door may be opened for developing Alzheimer’s.
Anemia may be caused by a number of problems such as:
- iron deficiency
- blood loss
- kidney failure
- certain chronic diseases
Simply taking extra iron pills will not treat many types of anemia.
If you think you or your senior loved one is showing signs of anemia, it’s important to see a doctor. Anemia is actually quite common in seniors, so it’s important to avoid jumping to conclusions about developing Alzheimer’s disease.
More about Alzheimer’s Disease & Memory Care
Five Star Senior Living is dedicated to offering a comfortable, safe, and nurturing environment for residents who have Alzheimer’s. We also seek to serve as a resource for caregivers and family members. That’s why we stay current on the latest scientific findings and publish them here for our readers.
Our Bridge to Recovery Program memory care is one of the best around. This award-winning program is designed to help seniors living with Alzheimer’s can flourish. If you’d like to know more, please give us a call.