04 July 2023

Dementia develops faster in women with atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation increased the probability of cognitive impairment and its progression in women. In men, the relationship between atrial fibrillation and the rate of cognitive progression was statistically insignificant.

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta evaluated the risk of progression of cognitive impairment and development of dementia among patients with atrial fibrillation depending on gender. The study was published in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia.

Women with atrial fibrillation were 3.43 times more likely to develop mild cognitive decline than people without the disease, and dementia was three times more likely. In men, these risks were not as pronounced - by 73 and 60%.

During the four years of follow-up, 30% of the participants were found to have progressed cognitive impairment, and dementia developed in 21% of the patients. In women with atrial fibrillation, the risk of progression was 21% higher than in women without the disease.

Meanwhile, women with atrial fibrillation and normal cognitive function at baseline had a 17% increased risk of mild cognitive impairment and a 2.57-fold increased risk of progression of mild cognitive impairment to vascular dementia compared with women without atrial fibrillation. In men, the relationship between atrial fibrillation and progression of cognitive impairment was statistically insignificant.

Data from 43,630 patients were analyzed. Atrial fibrillation was initially detected in 4593 people. The mean age of the participants was 78.5 years. The patients underwent neuropsychological testing, on the basis of which they were divided into the groups of normal cognitive ability, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia.

The relationship between atrial fibrillation and baseline cognitive ability, as well as disease and progression of cognitive impairment, was assessed. The analysis took into account gender, age, education, body mass index, smoking, depression, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart failure, stroke, and sleep apnea.
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