MEDICAL NEWS: Dementia Linked to THIS!?!

( – A recent study has shed light on the possible link between atrial fibrillation (A-fib) and dementia. A-fib is a common irregular heartbeat and is the most frequent type of heart arrhythmia.

The study found that those who have been newly diagnosed with A-fib have a 13% higher risk of developing dementia, a progressive loss of memory and thinking skills. This risk is even higher, at 65%, among those who developed A-fib before age 65 and those who don’t have chronic kidney disease (20%).

Lead researcher Dr. Nisha Bansal, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, emphasized that not everyone who has A-fib will develop dementia, however, she stated that “if atrial fibrillation is also associated with dementia, it has important clinical and public health implications when it comes to the management of patients.

More research is needed to understand the biological mechanisms that explain this association as well as whether treatment of atrial fibrillation might lower the risk of dementia.”

The study collected data from nearly 197,000 patients from the Kaiser Permanente health system in California, with half having recently been diagnosed with A-fib.

The researchers took steps to offset the influence of other medical conditions known to increase dementia risk. Although the study does not prove that A-fib causes dementia, it does show that there is a possible link between the two.

Dr. Laurence Epstein, system director of electrophysiology at Northwell Health in Manhasset, N.Y., who reviewed the findings, stated that it’s not clear whether A-fib causes dementia or is a marker for other disease processes that increase the risk for dementia. He advised that the best way to avoid developing A-fib is to maintain a normal weight and blood pressure, avoid sleep apnea, get plenty of exercise, and eat a healthy diet.

Medications can help maintain a normal heart rhythm, but they don’t work for everyone and can have serious side effects.

The other option is ablation, a treatment in which heat is used to deaden the areas in the heart that are causing A-fib. This treatment can be effective in the long term but doesn’t work for everyone.

The findings were published on March 8th in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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