Do you know how AFib affects organs other than your heart, especially the brain? There is an evident relation that we already know about – AFib increases the risk of stroke. However, AFib’s adverse effects are not limited only to stroke:studies show that there is also an increased risk of dementia due to AFib.
AFib becomes more common in the elderly, with about half of AFib patients aged more than 80 years old. Moreover, cognitive decline and dementia primarily affect the aging population. Therefore, having AFib adds to the misery as it speeds up cognitive decline and the onset of dementia. Furthermore, let’s learn about what dementia is and how AFib increases the risk. Specifically, this will help you understand why preventative measures become so essential.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a broader term (an umbrella) that includes ailments characterized by memory loss and cognitive decline. For example, Alzheimer’s diseases and Lewy body dementia are the two most common types of dementia. Furthermore, these ailments often occur in old age, with gradual memory loss severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life as a defining landmark.
How Does AFib Relate To Dementia:
A nine-year-long study done by Korean researchers shed light on the relation between AFib and dementia. The research started in 2004 with a group of 262,611 participants, all aged above 60 years and AFib free. Now, during that time, some of the participants were diagnosed with AFib. This allowed researchers to study AFib patients simultaneously with healthy individuals(control group). In the end, researchers found that 24.4% of AFib patients developed dementia while only 14.4% of healthy individuals developed dementia. The result of the study cemented the positive relationship between AFib and dementia.
This was not a standalone study and result. Specifically, this is due to the fact that many pieces of research found a similar relationship between AFib and dementia. For example, a study conducted in Germany deduced that AFib does speed up cognitive decline.
Why Can AFib Cause Dementia:
It’s clear that AFib does relate to dementia, and people with AFib are at a higher risk. Nonetheless, a question still remains: why does AFib cause cognitive decline? Firstly, AFib can increase the occurrence of a stroke. After a stroke, some portion of the brain may end up dead, eventually leading to dementia. However, that’s not all, as doctors also have noticed irregularities in the CT scan of patients with AFib. These reports showed the existence of micro bleeding. With micro bleeding, some blood may escape the veins in the brain and pool around the brain tissue.
In addition, doctors also discovered that AFib could cause a drop in blood pressure in the brain, resulting in inadequate blood supply to the brain. Thus, stroke, microbleeds, and insufficient blood supply can stimulate cognitive decline and dementia.
It’s distressing how a single organ disorder propagates its effects to other organs as well. Hence, it would be best to address AFib as soon as possible and talk to an expert about possible solutions. You can contact Atrial Fibrillation Center at 832-478-5067 for more information or book an appointment.