A few years back there was a popular book out about blood types. It revealed how certain blood types may be predisposed to certain diseases. It also outlined what foods each blood type should eat to stay healthy. As a cardiologist, I found this information fascinating as I saw it as another tool to help my patients avoid certain diseases.
Recently, researchers have found out something else out about your blood type. They’ve learned that one particular blood type ups your risk for dementia as you get older. Let me tell you more about these new findings and what you can do to protect yourself.
Your Blood Type: Know It To Help Prevent Dementia
Do you know your blood type? No? Well, don’t feel bad, most people don’t. It’s not listed on your birth certificate or driver’s license. Like most people, you probably have never known your blood type so you likely don’t have it written down somewhere. But, it’s relatively easy to find out – you just need to ask your doctor for a quick blood test to determine it. It’s a good thing to know for several reasons.
One of them is that researchers have found that a certain blood type puts you at greater risk for getting dementia later in life. But, before I tell you which blood type that is, first let me explain a little about blood types.
There are eight different blood types in the family of man. The most common is Type O positive which accounts for about 37 people out of every 100 persons. Type O negative accounts for a very small group of people, 6 out of every 100.
The next most common is Type A positive which involves 34 out of every 100 persons with Type A affecting about 6 people out of 100. Type B positive is next at 10 out of 100 persons and type B negative found in about every 2 people out of 100.
Last on the list – and the most uncommon blood type – are the AB’s. AB positives account for 4 people out of 100 (or 4%) with AB negative blood extremely rare at 1 (1%) out of 100.
It’s the AB group of blood type that researchers out of the University of Vermont College of Medicine have determined to be at greatest risk for developing dementia later in life. They found that an AB blood type raises your risk of developing dementia by a whopping 82%. Why? It seems that this blood group typically has higher than average levels of something called Factor VIII – a substance that causes your blood to clot faster. Higher blood levels of Factor VIII have been found associated with high risks of cognitive problems such as impaired thinking and/or memory loss.
If you have Type AB blood, you’re probably wondering if you’re doomed to developing dementia in your golden years? Researchers have not really reached a definitive conclusion yet. It’s felt that more research is needed to better answer that question. However, I feel that even though your risk may be a little higher than people with more common blood types, I don’t think that you’re fated to developing dementia. Especially if you take steps proactively to decrease your risk. Here’s what you can do…
Lower Your Risk For Developing Dementia
First, ask your doctor for a blood test to determine which blood type you have. Secondly, the researchers have identified that Type AB blood has a tendency to have higher levels of the clotting substance Factor VIII. If you have type AB blood, you may want to ask your doctor to also do a Factor VIII test to determine how high your levels are. If you have elevated Factor VIII levels, you could have some underlying conditions aggravating it which include:
- Copper deficiencies, which are frequently found with higher Factor VIII levels
- Diabetes – higher blood sugars associated with inflammation which elevates levels
- Advanced age – just getting older naturally increases blood clotting factors
- Inflammation – which can create, and aggravate, many conditions in your body
If your Factor VIII levels are elevated, your doctor will likely want to monitor you and perhaps even start you on a small amount of blood thinners. But, before you start on prescription blood thinners, which can be a little tricky, you may want to visit an integrative medicine doctor. These doctors are skilled in natural ways to decrease blood clotting factors. These include:
- Addressing copper deficiency. Be sure your multivitamin contains at least 900 mcg. If you eat a lot of zinc rich foods you may want to up your copper levels a little higher as higher zinc intake can lower copper stores.
- Vitamin E. Studies out of Harvard Medical School have shown that Vitamin E lowers blood clot risk in deep veins. Other studies cited in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that Vitamin E suppresses Factor VIII enhancement. 400 mg daily of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols can help.
- Nattokinase, or natto. Nattokinase is a natural substance derived from fermented soy. It had been used for centuries in Japanese medicine as a “folk remedy” for heart and vascular disease. When modern researchers tested natto, it was learned that it did have the ability to dissolve fibrinous blood clots. In animal studies, natto was found to decrease blood clots by 62% in comparison to traditional medicine. It’s thought that memory and other thinking problems start from decreased blood flow to the brain and/or tiny strokes called TIAs. Natto is thought to decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke. Supplementing with natto to bring down clotting factors is best done at the advice of a physician for the proper amount.
Even though you may have type AB blood and are at higher risk for developing dementia, you can take precautions to lower your risk now. On the other hand, having other blood types doesn’t mean you won’t develop dementia. The same risk factors that predispose you to heart attack and stroke – like diabetes, inflammation, obesity – also up your risk for dementia. Getting these factors under control will help you, no matter what your blood type, prevent dementia.
Ron Blankstein, M.D.
Blood Types, http://uhs.berkeley.edu/home/blooddrives/faq.shtml
Can Your Blood Type Affect Your Memory in Later Years? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140910185913.htm
Factor VIII Assay: Purpose, Procedure and Risks, http://www.healthline.com/health/factor-viii-assay#Results5
Vitamin E Suppresses Factor VIII enhancement, http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/40/2/656.full.pdf
Vitamin E May Lower Blood Clot Risk, http://www.webmd.com/women/news/20070911/vitamin-e-may-lower-blood-clot-risk