Atrial fibrillation Could Be A Risk Factor For Memory Loss, Study Shows

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Atrial fibrillation (AFib), a common irregular heartbeat, is linked to memory loss, according to new research. In the study of 4.3 million people in the UK it was established that a new diagnosis of AFib is associated with a 45% higher risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This suggests that cardiovascular risk factors and other health conditions may contribute to the development of dementia in AFib patients.

MCI linked to AFib 

MCI is considered an early stage of cognitive decline that can be reversed and can lead to dementia, but its connection to AFib has not been extensively researched until now. This study, conducted in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology, aims to investigate the association between MCI and AFib diagnosis among UK patients.

Senior study author and Institute of Health Informatics Research at University College London Professor Rui Providencia said that the study demonstrated that AF was linked to 45% increase in MCI risk with cardiovascular risk factors alongside multi-comorbidity seemingly being associated with the outcome. 

The research team used electronic health record (EHR) data from the UK with 4.3 million people to study the MCI risk after AFib diagnosis. They found a 45% increased risk of MCI after AFib diagnosis. 

Interestingly, other factors like older age, socioeconomic deprivation, being female, depression, stroke, and pre-existing conditions were also associated with higher MCI risk but didn’t change the link between AFib and MCI. In individuals older than 74, AFib and MCI were often diagnosed alongside other conditions like diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, peripheral artery disease, and depression.

AFib patients under medication not at risk 

AFib patients treated with digoxin did not have an increased risk of MCI. MCI risk was higher in AFib patients not receiving oral anticoagulant or amiodarone treatment. Those with AFib receiving oral anticoagulant and amiodarone treatment had no increased MCI risk. 

During the study, 1,117 people were diagnosed with dementia after MCI. AFib was linked to higher dementia risk in those with MCI. Multiple factors like gender, asthma, smoking, chronic kidney disease, and comorbidity were associated with increased dementia risk.

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