Irregular heart beat plus stroke may increase dementia risk

Irregular heart beat plus stroke may increase dementia riskWashington, Mar 8: A new study has warned that stroke patients who also suffer from an irregular heartbeat are at double the risk of developing dementia.

Findings show that stroke survivors with an irregular heartbeat - or atrial fibrillation - are 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia than stroke survivors without the heart condition.

The researchers analysed 15 studies with more than 45,000 participants and an average age of 72. They compared patients with and without atrial fibrillation, and followed up to determine which developed dementia over time. Around a quarter of patients with both stroke and atrial fibrillation were subsequently found to have developed dementia.

"These results offer convincing evidence of a link between irregular heartbeat and dementia in patients with stroke and could help us identify treatments that delay or even prevent the onset of dementia," said lead author Dr Phyo Myint of Norwich Medical School at University of East Anglia (UEA).

"Options include more rigorous management of cardiovascular risk factors or of atrial fibrillation, particularly in stroke patients."

Dr Myint said further high quality research was now needed to establish whether the link between atrial fibrillation and dementia in stroke patients was causal.

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer''s Society, said: "Cardiovascular disease and stroke are well known risk factors for dementia. The best way to reduce risk of dementia is to take regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables and ensuring that your blood pressure and cholesterol are checked regularly."

The study will be published in the journal Neurology. (ANI)