PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – People may know their blood type, but they may not think about associated patterns of disease.

Previous studies have shown Type A, Type B, and Type AB blood are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

“I think if we know someone has this blood type, then perhaps we might be even more aggressive with their cardiovascular risk factors,” Allegheny General Hospital Dr. Marc Itskowitz said.

A new study looks specifically at blood type and reasoning, attention and memory problems.

More than 17,000 Americans 45-years-old and older with normal thinking and no history of stroke were followed an average of three-and-a-half years. They were checked four times over that period with simple mind challenges.

As it turns out, compared to having Type O blood, having Type AB blood nearly doubled the odds of thinking troubles.

“If you have risk factors for vascular disease, you’re at much higher likelihood of having cognitive problems as you age,” AGH Neuropsychologist Dr. Carol Schramke said. “If you actually look at the fine print of the study, diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, other things that you do have some influence on are actually more important in predicting who’s going on to develop mild cognitive impairment or change.”

Blood type is an association, not a cause. So, rather than focusing on what you can’t change, your efforts are best aimed at making sure you’re getting exercise, lots of fruits and vegetables, enough sleep and watching your weight, blood pressure and blood sugar.

Blood type can also influence susceptibility to certain infections including, norovirus, cholera, and H. Pylori.

It is possible that blood type could affect cardiovascular risk and thinking troubles by its signature on tissues besides blood.

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