- A study reports a
higher risk of dementia in atrial fibrillation patients diagnosed with
carotid artery disease.
- Atrial fibrillation
alone has been earlier shown to be a risk factor for dementia and
- Monitoring and
screening patients early on for both conditions can
help reduce the combined risk of developing dementia.
New research from the
Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City states that
atrial fibrillation patients who are diagnosed with carotid artery disease face
higher risks of developing dementia.
The results of the
study will be presented during the Heart Rhythm Society's 39th annual
Scientific Sessions in Boston.
Link between Atrial
Fibrillation and Dementia
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart arrhythmia in the world
it affects more than 2.7 million American adults. Earlier research suggests
that the abnormal heart rhythms that occur in atrial fibrillation can cause
blood to pool and clot in the heart producing inconsistent blood flow to the
brain. The blood clots can also break free causing a stroke. Both consequences
of atrial fibrillation can contribute to the onset of dementia
decrease in cognitive function.
Link between Carotid
Artery Disease and Dementia
disease affects more than 200,000 new patients each year and mostly people over
60 years of age. In the disease, the
carotid artery, the main artery leading from the brain to the heart gets
blocked due to a gradual build-up of plaque in people as they age, restricting
blood flow to the brain
. But unfortunately, the disease mostly remains
silent and is not diagnosed until the person suffers a stroke due to the block.
‘Atrial fibrillation and carotid artery disease share common risk factors. A current study reports that patients diagnosed with carotid artery disease, already affected by atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of developing dementia.’
Both atrial fibrillation and carotid artery
disease have similar risk factors
that include age, weight, hypertension,
high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking.
The new study shows
that a combination of the two diseases and the fact that both of them severely
impact blood flow to the brain significantly increases a patient's chances of
"Our team of
researchers has been studying links between atrial fibrillation
and dementia. This new
data stresses the continued need for physicians to monitor and screen patients for
both carotid artery disease and atrial fibrillation, especially patients who
have risk factors of either disease, said Victoria Jacobs, PhD, a clinical
researcher with the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute."
A population of 6,786 patients with carotid artery disease
but with no history of dementia
, where the average age of the patients was
71.6 years old and 55.6 percent of them were male were studied.
Within this group, patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation
(twenty-one percent) were compared to those with no diagnosis of atrial
The group of patients who had atrial fibrillation and
who were diagnosed with carotid artery disease faced higher risks of developing
The study results can
help providers and patients reduce the onset of dementia through early
awareness and recognition.
fibrillation and carotid artery disease
treatable, and addressing those diseases early on can help reduce the risk of
developing dementia," said Dr. Jacobs. "Physicians should be
discussing the treatment options with patients who are at risk to help educate
them about what they can do to live the healthiest life possible. Patients
should be engaged in their own healthcare, knowledgeable about their risks, and
active in maintaining healthy lifestyles. Neither disease should be accepted
passively, because both are treatable, and treatment is especially important
given the benefit of helping to prevent or postpone dementia."
In the future,
researchers will continue to analyze the data to compare it among different
groups. This will help identify other patterns that may exist in a patient's
risk of developing dementia.
is a term that describes a group of symptoms that is
associated with a decline in memory or other cognitive skills like thinking,
problem-solving or language
. Dementia can be severe enough to reduce a
person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease
accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the dementia population. The second most common dementia type is
vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke
are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia - some are
reversible and others irreversible. Dementia due to thyroid problems and
vitamin deficiencies are reversible.
- Atrial Fibrillation Patients Diagnosed with Carotid Artery Disease Face Increased Risk of Dementia, New Study Finds