Atrial Fibrillation Raises Dementia Risk Independent of Stroke

HealthDay News — Atrial fibrillation (AF) is linked to an increased risk of dementia, according to a study published in JAMA Neurology.

Renée F.A.G. de Bruijn, MD, from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues determined the effect of AF on developing dementia during 20 years of follow-up. The correlation was examined from July 6, 1989, to Feb. 4, 2010, in 6,514 dementia-free participants in a prospective population-based study.

The researchers found that 4.9% of patients had prevalent AF at baseline and that 15.3% of participants developed incident dementia during 81,483 person-years of follow-up. Prevalent AF correlated with an increased risk of dementia (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.33). Among 6,169 participants without prevalent AF, 11.7% developed incident AF and 15% developed incident dementia during 79,003 person-years of follow-up. In younger participants (<67 years), incident AF correlated with increased risk of dementia (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.81). In younger participants, but not in the elder participants, the risk of dementia was strongly associated with duration of exposure to AF (in the highest stratum: adjusted hazard ratio, 3.30; P = 0.03 for trend).

“Atrial fibrillation is associated with an increased risk of dementia, independent of clinical stroke,” the authors write. “Future studies should investigate whether optimal treatment of AF can prevent or postpone dementia.”


  1. de Bruijn RFAG et al. JAMA Neurol. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.2161.