A study of brain atrophy from Iceland found that A-Fib in the elderly caused accelerated loses of brain volume and cognitive function.
This is yet another study driving a stake into the heart of the notion that you can just leave patients in A-Fib with anticoagulants and rate control drugs, and they will live happily ever after.
“It’s better for the brain to remain in sinus rhythm than to pursue rate control of A-Fib” stated Dr. David O. Arnar, speaking of the AGES-Reykjavik Study results at the 2015 Euro Society of Cardiology Annual Congress.
The AGES-Reykjavik Study
Over two thousand elderly subjects without dementia (mean age 67 years old) were tested and followed for over 5 years. Participants had brain MRIs and structured cognitive function testing during the duration of the study.
The 2,472 elderly patients fell into three groups: those who remained A-Fib-free throughout the study, those with confirmed A-Fib at the start (121), and those who developed new-onset A-Fib (132) by the end of the study.
AGES Findings: Brain Matter
At the end of the follow-up period, all participants had a reduction in brain grey matter. The amount of reduction varied significantly by group:
• A-Fib-free: 1.8% decrease
• Ongoing A-Fib: 2.79% decrease
• New-onset A-Fib: 6.5% decrease