New research has found that atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular and often abnormally fast heartbeat, appears to be associated with an increased risk of dementia, even in people who have not suffered a stroke
Led by researchers at Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea, the new large-scale study looked at 262,611 people aged 60 or over who were free of AF and dementia in 2004. The participants were then followed until the end of
The findings, which were published in the European Heart Journal Wednesday, showed that participants who developed atrial fibrillation during follow-up had a 50% increased risk of developing dementia compared to those who did not develop AF . This increased risk was even after the team had removed the participants who had suffered a stroke from their calculations.
"This means that, among the general population, an additional 1.4 people per 100 of the population would develop dementia if they were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. The risk occurred in people aged younger and older than 70 years, "commented lead author Professor Boyoung Joung,
Atrial fibrillation also increased the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 30% and more than doubled the risk of vascular dementia. Good news is that the researchers found that AF patients who took oral anticoagulants to prevent blood clots such as warfarin or non-vitamin K anticoagulants such as dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban or edoxaban had 40% reduced the risk of dementia compared to patients who did not take anticoagulants
AF, also known as heart flutter, is the most common heart rhythm disorder. The likelihood of developing the condition increases with age, and more than half of AF patients are aged 80 or older. Symptoms include chest pain, racing, or unusual heartbeat palpitations, weakness, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, and shortness of breath, and the condition increases the risk of stroke, other medical problems, and death
the largest study to investigate the link between AF and dementia in people aged 60 and over who did not have AF or history of stroke in the study
The study also has the longest follow-up with an average of more "With these great figures, we can be sure of our findings," said co-author, Professor Gregory Lip. "We also believe that our results can also apply to other populations, as they confirm similar findings of a link between atrial fibrillation and dementia in studies of people in Western and European countries