Chang Hyung Hong, MD, PhD, from the Ajou University School of Medicine in Suwon, South Korea, and colleagues examined the correlation between anemia (defined according to World Health Organization criteria) and incident dementia in a cohort of 2,552 older adults (mean age, 76.1 years) participating in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study. Participants were free of dementia at baseline. Dementia medication use, hospital records, or a change in Modified Mini-Mental State (3MS) score of >1.5 standard deviations from mean were used to determine a dementia diagnosis.
The researchers found that 15.4% of participants had anemia at baseline and 17.8% of participants developed dementia over the 11-year follow-up period. Compared to those without anemia, participants with baseline anemia had a significantly increased risk of dementia (23% vs. 17%; hazard ratio, 1.64). After adjustment for demographics, APOE ε4, baseline 3MS score, comorbidities, and renal function, the association remained significant. The results were not substantially changed with additional adjustments for anemia measures (mean corpuscular volume, red cell distribution width), erythropoietin, and C-reactive protein. The risk of developing dementia was not affected by sex or race.
“Findings suggest that further study of anemia as a risk factor for dementia and a target for intervention for cognitive health is warranted,” the authors write.
One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.