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Atrial Fibrillation Linked to Increased Dementia Risk

Last Updated: April 02, 2010.

Patients with atrial fibrillation -- especially those under 70 -- may have an increased risk of developing dementia, along with an increased risk of death after a dementia diagnosis, according to a study published in the April issue of Heart Rhythm.

FRIDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with atrial fibrillation -- especially those under 70 -- may have an increased risk of developing dementia, along with an increased risk of death after a dementia diagnosis, according to a study published in the April issue of Heart Rhythm.

T. Jared Bunch, M.D., of the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, and colleagues studied 37,025 patients aged 60 to 90 years from the Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study database.

During a five-year follow-up, 10,161 patients (27 percent) developed atrial fibrillation and 1,535 (4.1 percent) developed dementia, including 179 diagnosed with vascular dementia, 321 with senile dementia, 347 with Alzheimer's disease, and 688 with non-specified dementia. The age-based analysis showed that atrial fibrillation was independently and significantly associated with all dementia types, and the researchers observed the highest risk in patients under 70 years of age. The analysis also showed that the presence of atrial fibrillation after a dementia diagnosis was associated with a significantly increased risk of death (hazard ratios, 1.38 for vascular dementia, 1.41 for senile dementia, 1.45 for Alzheimer's disease, and 1.38 for non-specified dementia).

"These findings require further investigation and confirmation in an effort to understand and prevent dementia as well as to optimally manage dementia patients at higher risk of adverse outcomes," the authors conclude.

Four study authors have received speaker's honorarium from Boston Scientific, and one is a consultant for the company.

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