Many stroke survivors could be prevented from going on to develop dementia if they were treated for a heartbeat problem known as atrial fibrillation, a UK research team has claimed.
The University of East Anglia study reported that analysis of the records of almost 50,000 patients found the risk of dementia developing after a stroke was doubled by atrial fibrillation (AF).
Stroke survivors with AF were 2.4 times more likely to go on to suffer dementia than stroke survivors who did not have the heart condition. About a quarter of patients with stroke and AF were found to have developed dementia during follow-up.
The report suggested research should now take place into whether more concentrated treatment with drugs for AF would delay or prevent dementia.
Lead researcher Dr Phyo Kyaw said: “These results may help us identify potential treatments that could help delay or even prevent the onset of dementia. Options could include more rigorous management of cardiovascular risk factors or of AF, particularly in stroke patients.”
- Kwok CS, et al. Atrial fibrillation and incidence of dementia:A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurology 2011; 76:914-922
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