The Risk of Dementia Caused by A-Fib―20 year Study Results
Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) has been suggested as a risk factor for dementia since A-Fib can lead to a decrease of blood supply to the brain independent of stroke.
Other long-term studies evaluating the link between A-Fib and dementia have shown inconsistent results.
Study Patients and Method
In a 20-year observational study of participants in the long-term Rotterdam Study, researchers tracked 6,514 dementia-free people. Researchers were monitoring participants for dementia and Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib).
“The Rotterdam Study” is a long-term study started in 1990 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Cardiovascular disease is just one of several targeted diseases. Since 2008 it has 14,926 participants.
At the start of the study (baseline), 318 participants (4.9%) already had A-Fib.
During the course of the 20-year study, among 6,196 people without established A-Fib:
• 723 participants (11.7%) developed A-Fib, and
• 932 participants (15.0%) developed incident dementia.
• Development of A-Fib was associated with an increased risk of dementia in younger people (<67 years old).
• Dementia risk was strongly associated with younger people (<67 years old) who developed A-Fib but not strongly associated in the elder participants who developed A-Fib.
The authors concluded…that the association between A-Fib and dementia was strongest for younger participants (<67 years old) with the longest duration of A-Fib.
They recommended “future studies should investigate whether optimal [ideal] treatment of A-Fib can prevent or postpone dementia.”
What Patients Need To Know
The Bottom Line: The younger you are when you develop A-Fib and/or the longer you have A-Fib, the greater your risk of developing dementia.
The younger you are when you develop A-Fib and/or the longer you have A-Fib, the greater your risk of developing dementia.
Because there may be other factors at play, that’s as far as researchers can go (though they did use regression models to adjust for age, sex, and cardiovascular risk factors).
A-Fib Leads to or Causes Dementia: As patients we have to conclude that, all things being equal, A-Fib leads to and/or causes Dementia.
This makes intuitive sense. In A-Fib we lose 15%-30% of our heart’s ability to pump blood to our brain and to the rest of our body. Hence, the longer we stay in A-Fib, the greater our risk of developing dementia (and a host of other problems).
Contrary to today’s media, your goal should NOT be to just ‘manage your A-Fib’.
Don’t Settle. Seek your A-Fib cure: To decrease your increased risk of dementia, your goal should be to get your A-Fib fixed and get your heart beating normally again. We can’t say it enough:
Do not settle for a lifetime on meds. Seek your A-Fib cure.