News | Atrial Fibrillation | May 24, 2018

Atrial Fibrillation Patients Diagnosed With Carotid Artery Disease Face Increased Risk of Dementia

Researchers stress importance of handling treatable conditions like AFib and CAD to prevent or postpone dementia

Atrial Fibrillation Patients Diagnosed With Carotid Atery Disease Face Increased Risk of Dementia

Image courtesy of Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute

May 24, 2018 — Atrial fibrillation patients who are diagnosed with carotid artery disease face higher risks for developing dementia, according to new research from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City.

Blockages in the carotid artery, which gradually build up as people age, restrict blood flow to the brain. The new study shows that a combination of the two diseases and the resulting impact on blood flow significantly increases a patient’s chances of developing dementia.

Prior research has shown the abnormal heart rhythms of atrial fibrillation (Afib) produce inconsistent blood flow to the brain, which contributes to the onset of dementia or a decrease in cognitive function. Risk factors are similar for atrial fibrillation and carotid artery disease and include age, weight, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Smoking can also increase risk.

“Our team of researchers has been studying links between atrial fibrillation and dementia. This new data stresses the continued need for physicians to monitor and screen patients for both carotid artery disease and atrial fibrillation, especially patients who have risk factors of either disease," said Victoria Jacobs, Ph.D., a clinical researcher with the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

Results of the study were presented during the Heart Rhythm Society’s 39th annual Scientific Sessions, May 9-12 in Boston.

More than 200,000 new patients are diagnosed each year with carotid artery disease, which is caused by plaque building up in the artery that leads from the brain to the heart. However, the disease is usually asymptomatic until the patient has a stroke.  The largest age group of people affected are those over 60.

Atrial fibrillation, the most common heart arrhythmia in the world, affects more than 2.7 million American adults. The abnormal heart rhythm causes blood to pool and clot in the heart, and when those blood clots break free, they can cause a stroke.

Researchers examined 6,786 patients with carotid artery disease with no history of dementia, and compared those in the group diagnosed with atrial fibrillation to those with no diagnosis of atrial fibrillation.

The average age of the patients was 71.6 years old and 55.6 percent of them were male. Twenty one percent of them had atrial fibrillation.

How can study results help providers and patients reduce the onset of dementia? Jacobs said early awareness and recognition are key.

“Atrial fibrillation and carotid artery disease are treatable, and addressing those diseases early on can help reduce the risk of developing dementia,” said Jacobs. “Physicians should be discussing the treatment options with patients who are at risk to help educate them about what they can do to live the healthiest life possible. Patients should be engaged in their own healthcare, knowledgeable about their risks and active in maintaining healthy lifestyles. Neither disease should be accepted passively, because both are treatable, and treatment is especially important given the benefit of helping to prevent or postpone dementia.”

Researchers will continue to analyze the data to compare it among different groups to see what patterns may exist in identifying a patient’s risk of developing dementia.

Members of the research team include: Kevin G. Graves, MHI; Heidi T. May, Ph.D.; Victoria Jacobs, Ph.D.; Tami L. Bair; Brian G. Crandall, M.D.; Michael J. Cutler, DO, Ph.D.; Charles Mallender, M.D.; Jeffrey S. Osborn, M.D.; Peter Weiss, M.D.; John D. Day, M.D.; and Jared Bunch, M.D.

For more information: www.intermountainhealthcare.org

Read other news from the Heart Rhythm Society 2018 Scientific Sessions

Related Content

An example of the new generation of cardiac monitoring device that is replacing Holter monitoring is the Cardea Solo wearable sensor. The FDA-cleared device automatically analyzes data when the device is turned back into the physician's office and automatically produces a draft summary report. This technology can simplify the workflow by eliminating the need for third-party involvement.

Feature | Atrial Fibrillation | September 13, 2018
Rapid advances in technology to monitor atrial fibrillation (AF or Afib) are enabling clinicians to access real-time
Botulinum Toxin (botox) Injection in CABG Patients Reduces AFib After Cardiac Surgery. #HRS2018

Figure 1: At the end of 36 months, the incidence of any atrial tachyarrhythmia was 23.3 percent in the botox group, as compared to 50 percent in the placebo group

News | Atrial Fibrillation | May 18, 2018
 
Atrial fibrillation ablation using the Abbott Ensite electro mapping system. CABANA Trial Confirms Ablation Equal To or Superior to Drug Therapy. #HRS2018

Atrial fibrillation ablation using the Abbott Ensite electro mapping system.

Feature | Atrial Fibrillation | May 17, 2018
May 16, 2018 – The first results of the randomized, multicenter, long-term, international...
Link Found Between Post-Traumatic Stress, Increased Risk of AFib. #HRS2018
News | Atrial Fibrillation | May 15, 2018
May 15, 2018 — A new study is the first to report a relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ne
Marijuana Use Does Not Increase Risk of Arrhythmias, Might Reduce AFib Risk. #HRS2018
News | Atrial Fibrillation | May 15, 2018
May 15, 2018 — According to new research, smoking marijuana may not be associated with an increased risk of ventricul
First Results Reported from AVIATOR 2 Registry for AFib Patients Undergoing PCI.

Photo courtesy of the American Heart Association

News | Atrial Fibrillation | May 15, 2018
May 15, 2018 – Results of the AVIATOR 2 international registry data show a discrepancy between physician perception a
New Combined Risk Score More Effectively Predicts Stroke Risk in AFib Patients

Image courtesy of Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute

News | Atrial Fibrillation | May 11, 2018
A new study finds that integrating two separate clinical risk score models more accurately helps clinicians assess the...
Depression Linked to Increased Atrial Fibrillation Risk
News | Atrial Fibrillation | March 27, 2018
March 27, 2018 — Depression may increase the risk for...
Boston Scientific's Apama multi-electrode ablation balloon to treat atrial fibrillation.

Boston Scientific's Apama multi-electrode ablation balloon to treat atrial fibrillation. The technology allows different energies to be used for each electrode to prevent damage to the esophagus or other underlying critical structures. 

Feature | Atrial Fibrillation | January 15, 2018 | Dave Fornell
The development of atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF) ablation technologies over the past 20 years has been a constant
Overlay Init