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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Alzheimer's Disease May Increase Risk of Anemia


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"Alzheimer's had not previously been recognized as a risk factor for anemia, which is a common clinical problem for the elderly and can contribute to problems such as heart failure and renal failure," Faux continued. "The cause of anemia in Alzheimer's is still uncertain, but we speculate that Alzheimer's is a disease that affects both brain and blood. We are currently investigating this intriguing possibility."


Alzheimer's is Associated with Lower Hemoglobin Levels and Anemia


Studies suggest that iron accumulates in the tau tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimer's, and that overall levels of iron are elevated in both Alzheimer's and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) brains. However, it is not clear from the scientific literature if this altered brain iron profile is reflected in plasma iron levels.

Noel Faux, PhD, of the Mental Health Research Institute, Parkville, Australia, and colleagues examined hemoglobin, iron and other blood-based measurements in the 1,112 participants (768 healthy controls, 133 MCI, 211 Alzheimer's) of the Australian Imaging Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) study of Ageing. Participants also completed questionnaires on diet and medication intake (including supplements). Results were then correlated with measures of short-term, long-term and total memory, and global cognition.

The researchers found that people with Alzheimer's in the study had significantly lower levels of hemoglobin, mean cell hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), and packed cell volume compared with healthy controls, after adjustment for age and gender. Consistent with these data, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was significantly higher in Alzheimer's compared to healthy controls.
Participants with anemia in the study were found to have an increased risk of Alzheimer's (odds ratio: 2.56). And people with Alzheimer's in the study were found to have an increased risk of being anemic (odds ratio: 2.61). Self reported iron intake was not different in the two groups.

"In our population, we found that people with Alzheimer's disease were more likely to be anemic, and this was not explained by dietary iron deficiency," Faux said. "This suggests that hemoglobin production is deficient in Alzheimer's patients."

"Alzheimer's had not previously been recognized as a risk factor for anemia, which is a common clinical problem for the elderly and can contribute to problems such as heart failure and renal failure," Faux continued. "The cause of anemia in Alzheimer's is still uncertain, but we speculate that Alzheimer's is a disease that affects both brain and blood. We are currently investigating this intriguing possibility."

--Noel G. Faux, et al. Alzheimer's disease is associated with lower hemoglobin levels and anemia: The Australian Imaging Biomarker Lifestyle (AIBL) study of ageing. (Funded by: Australian Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research Organization, National Health and Medical Research Council, The University of Melbourne, Neurosciences Australia, Edith Cowan Universality, The Mental Heath Research Institute, Alzheimer's Australia, National Ageing Research Institute, Austin Health, University of Western Australia, Pfizer)

Source Alzheimer's Association www.alz.org

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,610 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room