Ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat may in­crease de­men­tia risk

The Asian Age - - Science + Health -

Lon­don, Oct. 13: Peo­ple with a par­tic­u­lar kind of ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat may ex­pe­ri­ence faster de­cline in think­ing and mem­ory skills and are at greater risk of de­men­tia, a study has found. With atrial fib­ril­la­tion, a form of ar­rhyth­mia, the heart’s nor­mal rhythm is out of sync. As a re­sult, blood may pool in the heart, pos­si­bly form­ing clots that may go to the brain, caus­ing a stroke. How­ever, the study pub­lished in the jour­nal Neu­rol­ogy, also showed that peo­ple with atrial fib­ril­la­tion who were tak­ing an­ti­co­ag­u­lants, or blood thin­ners, to keep their blood from clot­ting were ac­tu­ally less likely to de­velop de­men­tia. “Com­pro­mised blood flow caused by atrial fib­ril­la­tion may af­fect the brain in a num­ber of ways,” said Chengx­uan Qiu, from the Karolin­ska In­sti­tute and Stockholm Univer­sity in Swe­den. “We know as peo­ple age, the chance of de­vel­op­ing atrial fib­ril­la­tion in­creases, as does the chance of de­vel­op­ing de­men­tia. Our re­search showed a clear link be­tween the two and found that tak­ing blood thin­ners may ac­tu­ally de­crease the risk of de­men­tia,” said Qiu. For the study, re­searchers looked at data on 2,685 par­tic­i­pants with an av­er­age age of 73 who were fol­lowed for an av­er­age of six years as part of a larger study. Par­tic­i­pants were ex­am­ined and in­ter­viewed at the start of the study and then once af­ter six years for those younger than 78 and once ev­ery three years for those 78 and older. All par­tic­i­pants were free of de­men­tia at the start of the study, but 243 peo­ple, or 9 per­cent, had atrial fib­ril­la­tion. Through face- to- face in­ter­views and med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tions, re­searchers gath­ered life­style and med­i­cal data on par­tic­i­pants at the start of the study and dur­ing each fol­low- up visit. All were screened for atrial fib­ril­la­tion, for over­all think­ing and mem­ory skills, as well as de­men­tia. Over the course of the study, an ad­di­tional 279 peo­ple, or 11 per cent, de­vel­oped atrial fib­ril­la­tion, and 399, or 15 per cent, de­vel­oped de­men­tia. Re­searchers found that those who had atrial fib­ril­la­tion had a faster rate of de­cline in think­ing and mem­ory skills than those with­out the con­di­tion and were 40 per cent more likely to de­velop de­men­tia.

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