A research team at Myongji Hospital has found that patients with anemia are at higher risk of developing cognitive decline, which can lead to dementia. The team stressed that elderly patients with anemia are more likely to develop dementia.
|Professor Kim Hong-bae|
The researchers, led by Professor Kim Hong-bae at the hospital, came to such a conclusion after investigating the relationship between anemia and cognitive decline from 16 observational epidemiological studies published in international journals from 1997 to 2017. Professor Sim Jae-yong from Severance Hospital also participated in the study.
According to this meta-analysis, people with anemia had 51 and 59 percent higher risk of cognitive impairment and dementia than those without the disease, respectively. The team also found that anemia was most often associated with Alzheimer's disease, which increased the risk by 91 percent.
In detailed group analysis by gender, age, study duration, number of participants, and the quality and design of the study, anemia consistently increased the risk of cognitive decline.
However, there were no changes in results concerning education level, cardiovascular risk, smoking and drinking status, physical activity level, and genetic vulnerability.
"There have been individual observations that anemia has a high risk of cognitive decline," Professor Kim said. "This study is the first to combine individual studies and shows that anemia increases the risk of dementia as well as mild cognitive impairment."
However, Park stressed that the relationship between anemia and cognitive impairment is not clear yet.
"We have hypothesized that the biological mechanisms for anemia lead to a decrease in oxygen supply to the brain, leading to cognitive decline, including dementia," Park said. "Anemia may also be linked to worsening health conditions, such as inflammation, heart disease, and kidney disease, which can cause cognitive decline."
More research is needed to determine whether certain types of anemia are associated with deterioration and how prolonged exposure to anemia is related to the risk of dementia, Park added.
Park also noted that there needs to be further researches to see improving anemia can lead to preventing dementia.
The results of the research were published in the December edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.