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Irregular or rapid heartbeat increases the risk of dementia

Has the heartbeat affected the development of dementia?

A new study has shown that when people have a rapid and irregular heartbeat, it seems to increase the risk of dementia in the affected.

New research at Yonsei University in Seoul has shown that our heartbeat can indicate an increased risk of dementia. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "European Heart Journal".

More than 1
.8 million people in Germany suffer from atrial fibrillation. The heart rhythm can become life-threatening if left untreated. Researchers have now found that the disease can increase the risk of dementia. (Photo: Sonja Calovini / fotolia.com)

The risk of Alzheimer's increased by 31 percent due to irregular heartbeat

According to the researchers, atrial fibrillation may lead to inadvertent leading so-called mini-strokes that alter the blood vessels in the brain, Damaged or clogged vessels can prevent oxygen-rich blood from reaching the organs' areas and causing brain cells to die. Over time, this can affect human memory, general thinking or language skills. An irregular heartbeat increased the risk of Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, by 31 percent, the study authors reported.

Atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of vascular dementia

In addition, the findings also show that the risk of atrial fibrillation for vascular dementia more than doubled. This form of dementia occurs when the condition is caused by decreased blood flow to the brain. The increased risk that persisted after people who had had stroke was removed from the study calculations. In people who developed atrial fibrillation and took oral anticoagulants, the risk subsequently decreased by almost 40 percent, researchers say.

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is a heart disease that leads to an irregular and often abnormally high heart rate. A normal heart rate should be regular and between 60 and 100 beats per minute when resting. In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is irregular and sometimes very rapid. In some cases, it can be significantly more than 100 beats per minute. This can lead to problems such as dizziness, difficulty breathing and fatigue.

Data from more than 260,000 participants were evaluated

The study looked at 262,611 people over the age of 60 who initially did not have atrial fibrillation or dementia. During the seven-year study, 10,435 participants developed atrial fibrillation and 2,522 of them (24 percent) were diagnosed with dementia. This is in comparison with the 36,322 (14 percent) participants, who did suffer from dementia, but did not develop atrial fibrillation. Of the 3,092 people with atrial fibrillation taking anticoagulants or blood thinners, the risk of developing dementia was 39 percent lower.


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