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Large study links atrial fibrillation to dementia

Wednesday June 19th, 2019

Patients with atrial fibrillation face a raised risk of going on to develop dementia, researchers warn today.

The work was led by Professor Boyoung Joung at Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

His team analysed figures on 262,611 people in Korea over 60 years of age without atrial fibrillation or dementia in 2004. They were followed until 2013.

Among those who developed atrial fibrillation there was a 24% higher risk of dementia, compared to those without atrial fibrillation (14%), even those who had not had a stroke. However, those who took oral anticoagulants for their atrial fibrillation were at a decreased risk of dementia.

Full details are published in the European Heart Journal today (19 June).

Professor Joung said: ”We found that the people who developed atrial fibrillation had a 50% increased risk of developing dementia compared to those who did not develop the condition; this increased risk remained even after we removed those who suffered a stroke from our calculations.

“This means that, among the general population, an extra 1.4 people per 100 of the population would develop dementia if they were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. The risk occurred in people aged younger and older than 70 years.”

For Alzheimer’s disease, atrial fibrillation raised the risk by 30%, and the risk of vascular dementia more than doubled.

“Among people who developed atrial fibrillation and who took oral anticoagulants, such as warfarin, or non-vitamin K anticoagulants, such as dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban or edoxaban, the risk of subsequently developing dementia reduced by 40% compared to patients who did not take anticoagulants,” Professor Joung added.

Kim, D. et al. Risk of dementia in stroke-free patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation: data from a population-based cohort. European Heart Journal 19 June 2019 doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehz386

Tags: Asia | Brain & Neurology | Europe | Heart Health

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