One of the most comprehensive studies to date has revealed more evidence that people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), a type of rapid or irregular heartbeat may be at greater risk for cognitive decline and dementia.
The new study doesn’t conclude if the association is more than a correlation, and there is no evidence showing atrial fibrillation is an actual cause of cognitive decline or dementia.
Dr. Lin Yee Chen, a cardiac electrophysiologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis who led the study stated that “the short answer is we don’t know. It is too early to say that atrial fibrillation directly causes cognitive decline.”
The new findings, published March 7, 2018 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, come from data gathered on 12,500 women and men from North Carolina, Maryland, Minnesota and Mississippi enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. Over half the participants were women and about a quarter were African-American.To read more about the study.
One of First Coast Heart & Vascular Center’s Electrophysiologists, Dr. Neil Sanghvi offers his viewpoint on this interesting study.
“The ARIC-NCS study highlights another risk associated with atrial fibrillation – the risk of worsening cognitive functioning and potential risk of future dementia.
“Asymptomatic” AF may not truly be asymptomatic since these future consequences of long-standing AF need to be considered. Talk to your physician about appropriate management including adequate anticoagulation.”
Today heart disease is America’s number one killer, but, unlike many diseases, there isn’t a specific age to start screening for heart or vascular disease. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a cardiologist if you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease or you are exhibiting symptoms that suggest that it may already be present.
Nearly half of Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity or an unhealthy diet. Risk also increases with age.
While our First Coast Heart & Vascular physicians are your partners in heart health, you are your own best advocate. Become familiar with the risk factors and the symptoms of heart and vascular problems. Talk to your doctor if you notice changes in your health and don’t hesitate to make an appointment with one of First Coast Heart & Vascular Center’s physicians today. If you experience any of the following symptoms of heart or vascular system disease:
Angina (chest pain).
Shortness of breath.
Weakness, slurred speech, dizziness, coldness, numbness or pain in the arms or legs.
Pain in the throat, jaw, neck, upper abdomen or back.
Note: Men usually have chest pain whereas women often experience extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and/or nausea.
Vascular disease deals with the circulatory system outside of your heart. Vascular disease is frequently called a silent threat since the symptoms of vascular disease may be sudden or may not present themselves at all. Talk with your physician if you have any of the risk factors shown below, to find out if you are a candidate for a vascular screening test.
Peripheral vascular disease; uncontrolled hypertension, excessive muscle cramping, limb weakness, numbness, cold feet or hands, discoloration of legs ulcers in hands or legs, claudication (pain in the legs when walking), extremity hair loss or muscle wasting, abdominal pain with eating and weight loss or swelling of the legs.
TIA (Transischemic Attack or mini-stroke)
Pulmonary Embolism (clots in the lungs)
Clots in the legs or arms
People with heart disease may present with symptoms such as an abnormal heartbeat or arrhythmia. Some of the symptoms include:
Palpitation or “racing of the heart”
A “fluttering” feeling in the chest
Pain or discomfort in the chest area
Lightheadedness (even fainting)
Dizziness or shortness of breath
Atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation
Extra heartbeats or PVC (premature ventricular contractions)
Graying of the skin or turning blue
SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia)
We work in harmony with your primary care physician to deliver diagnosis and treatment of all stages of heart and vascular disease. The following are health conditions that may put you at risk for a life-changing occurrence:
Aneurysms (abdomen, arms, legs) in both arteries and veins
Recently Dr. Dinesh Pubbi was invited to give a talk at Memorial Hospital here in Jacksonville about the effects of Atrial Fibrillation. Atrial Fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia. Dr. Pubbi discussed treatment options, including the Watchman implant device procedure that he performs at Memorial Hospital, to reduce the risk of stroke.
Heart Drug Warfin used to treat AFib tied to Dementia Risk
An interesting study was recently published showing that people with the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation (AF) may be at a greater risk of developing dementia, and the quality of their drug treatment may play a role.
Researchers found that patients on the clot-preventing drug warfarin showed a higher dementia risk if their blood levels of the medication were frequently too high or too low.
This turned out to be true not only for people with AF, but also for those using warfarin for other reasons.
“I believe this study highlights the importance of monitoring warfarin levels closely and to consider alternate anticoagulation options if the warfarin levels are difficult to maintain. Patients should not become concerned if their warfarin level is in range > 75% of the time. This study also supports the importance of using anticoagulation in AF patients since patients with too low warfarin levels were also prone to dementia.”
SOURCES: T. Jared Bunch, M.D., Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, Murray, Utah; Gordon Tomaselli, M.D., chief, division of cardiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and past president, American Heart Association; May 5, 2016, presentation, Heart Rhythm Society annual meeting, San Francisco
A patient centered support group for discussing and understanding complete heart care. Attendees will find comfort and strength in education and self-awareness. Understand conditions of living with Cardiac Device Assistance, and connect with others to feel a sense of community. This forum is open to the public and free of charge. This group’s affiliation is not for profit.
Cardiologist, Dr. Neil Sanghvi discusses Women and Heart Disease at the WJCT studio Lunch & Learn community heart education. The title of his talk was “What does your sex have to do with it? How to keep your heart ticking.”
Dr. Sanghvi discussed the facts, symptoms and treatment of irregular heart rhythms as well as the differences between women and men when it comes to heart care.
Did you know that heart failure is more common in women than men, yet women receive treatment two times less often than men.