By Steven Reinberg 

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 13, 2023 (HealthDay Information) — The frequent irregular heartbeat referred to as atrial fibrillation (a-fib) could improve the chance of dementia, a brand new examine suggests.

Researchers discovered that individuals newly identified with a-fib had a 13% larger threat of growing dementia, the progressive lack of reminiscence and pondering abilities. The danger was even larger (65%) amongst those that developed a-fib earlier than age 65 and in individuals who didn’t have persistent kidney illness (20%).

“The well being penalties of atrial fibrillation could also be broader than initially acknowledged in sure people,” stated lead researcher Dr. Nisha Bansal, a professor of drugs on the College of Washington, in Seattle. “A customized method is required to assist inform sufferers of the implications of their atrial fibrillation.”

A-fib is the commonest sort of coronary heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), Bansal stated.

“Till now, atrial fibrillation has been strongly linked with the chance of stroke, and the potential hyperlink with dementia has been unclear,” she stated.

A-fib is a fast, disorganized beating of the center’s higher chamber. Episodes can come and go, or could also be persistent. It will probably result in blood clots that journey to the mind, inflicting a stroke.

This examine does not show that a-fib causes dementia, solely that there seems to be a hyperlink between the 2. Bansal emphasised that not everybody who has a-fib will develop dementia.

“If atrial fibrillation can be related to dementia, it has essential scientific and public well being implications on the subject of the administration of sufferers,” Bansal stated. “Extra analysis is required to grasp the organic mechanisms that designate this affiliation in addition to whether or not therapy of atrial fibrillation may decrease the chance of dementia.”

For the examine, Bansal and her colleagues collected information on almost 197,000 sufferers from the Kaiser Permanente well being system in California. Half had been just lately identified with a-fib. They had been in contrast with a like quantity with out the situation.

The researchers took steps to offset the affect of different medical situations identified to extend dementia threat. Bansal, a kidney specialist, stated it was a shock to discover a higher threat amongst these with out kidney illness and in youthful sufferers.

Her group will attempt subsequent to raised perceive the organic mechanisms linking a-fib and dementia, and the way totally different therapies for irregular heartbeat consider.

It isn’t identified why a-fib may trigger dementia, stated Dr. Laurence Epstein, system director of electrophysiology at Northwell Well being in Manhasset, N.Y., who reviewed the findings.

“One of many issues that we have at all times struggled with is: What’s the potential motive a-fib results in an elevated threat of dementia?” he stated.

Lots of people suppose a-fib could not solely have an effect on the center however blood vessels all through the physique, which could improve the chance of dementia. “It’s a query this examine doesn’t reply,” he stated.

“One factor individuals have considered, since we all know that a-fib results in an elevated threat of stroke, is may there be subclinical strokes or micro-strokes going to the mind that will not manifest themselves as a transparent scientific stroke however over time, result in dementia?” he prompt. “That is one concern we have at all times had.”

It isn’t clear whether or not a-fib causes dementia or is a marker for different illness processes that improve the chance for dementia, Epstein stated.

The easiest way to keep away from growing a-fib is to keep up a standard weight and blood stress, keep away from sleep apnea, get loads of train and eat a nutritious diet, he suggested.

“Managing these issues aggressively could scale back the incidence of atrial fibrillation,” Epstein stated. “However curiously, these are all the identical issues that should you handle aggressively additionally scale back your threat of dementia.”

He stated one other open query is whether or not treating a-fib — by conserving the center in a standard (sinus) rhythm — will decrease dementia threat.

Drugs may help keep a standard coronary heart rhythm, however they do not work for everyone and might have severe unintended effects, Epstein stated.

The opposite possibility is ablation, a therapy during which warmth is used to deaden the areas within the coronary heart which can be inflicting a-fib. This may be efficient in the long run nevertheless it does not work for everybody, Epstein famous.

The findings had been printed on-line March 8 within the Journal of the American Coronary heart Affiliation.

Extra info

For extra on atrial fibrillation, head to the American Coronary heart Affiliation.


SOURCES: Nisha Bansal, MD, professor, medication, College of Washington, Seattle; Laurence Epstein, MD, system director, electrophysiology, Northwell Well being, Manhasset, N.Y.; Journal of the American Coronary heart Affiliation, March 8, 2023, on-line

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