New study: Common heart irregularity linked to increased risk of dementia

A common irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation (A-fib) may increase the risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people newly diagnosed with A-fib had a 13% higher risk of developing dementia.

The risk was even higher (65%) among those who developed a-fib before age 65, and in people who did not have chronic kidney disease (20%), the University of Washington study found. 

“The health consequences of atrial fibrillation may be broader than originally recognised in certain individuals,” said lead researcher Dr. Nisha Bansal.

A-fib is the most common type of heart arrhythmia, Bansal added.

“Until now, atrial fibrillation has been strongly linked with the risk of stroke, and the possible link with dementia has been unclear,” she said.

A-fib is a rapid, disorganized beating of the heart’s upper chamber. Episodes can come and go, or may be persistent. It can lead to blood clots that travel to the brain, causing a stroke.

This study doesn’t prove that A-fib causes dementia, only that there appears to be a link between the two. Bansal added that not everyone who has A-fib will develop dementia.

A total of 197,000 patients participated in the study – Half had been recently diagnosed with A-fib. 

The best way to avoid developing A-fib is to maintain a normal weight and blood pressure, avoid sleep apnea, get plenty of exercise and eat a healthy diet.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *