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Anemia Raises Dementia Risk: October 2, 2013

Body and mind- we’ve always known they are connected. But in matters of memory research suggests that older adults suffering from anemia may be at higher risk for dementia.

“It affects all the systems, but particularly memory,” says Dr. Aboo Mannan, geriatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Anemia is characterized by low levels of red blood cells. It often leads to fatigue, shortness of breath or heart problems. Dr. Mannan is a geriatrician with Lee Memory Care.

“When there is anemia, the proper nutrition and proper food of the brain is not maintained - which in the long run the capability of the brain decreases, so it is becoming slower. So we have to deal with that anemia which is one of the factors for memory issue,” says Dr. Mannan.

Anemia is fairly common in older adults. It’s estimated up to 23% of people over 65 have it. The condition ups the risk of dementia by nearly 50%. This connection may lead doctors to aggressively test for and treat anemia.

Eating foods high in iron can help prevent iron deficiency anemia. Some of the best include: meat, especially red meat, seafood, spinach, beans, dried fruits and fortified cereals or bread. Avoiding the condition, may better your odds of keeping a sound mind.

“If it is too late, then it is such an extent it cannot be reversed,” says Dr. Mannan.