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Study makes first connection between heart disorder and Alzheimer's disease
Date:5/15/2009

disease affecting approximately 5.3 million Americans. It is the most common form of dementia (a general term for life-altering loss of memory and other cognitive abilities), and accounts for 60-80 percent of all dementia cases. Today, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Currently, the known risk factors for Alzheimer's are age, family history and genetics, though injury may also be linked with the disease. Heart health has long been suspected to play a role, but has not been linked. The Intermountain Medical Center study bolsters that connection.

"The study shows a connection between atrial fibrillation and all types of dementia," said Bunch. "The Alzheimer's findings particularly the risk of death for younger patients break new ground."

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm problem, affecting about 2.2 million Americans. It occurs when the heart beats chaotically, leading blood to pool and possibly clot. If the clot leaves the heart, a stroke can result.

The Intermountain Medical Center study looked at five years of data for 37,025 patients. Of that group, 10,161 developed AF and 1,535 developed dementia during the study period.

The study authors say more research is needed to explore further the relationship between atrial fibrillation and the development of Alzheimer's disease.

"Now that we've established this link, our focus will be to see if early treatment of atrial fibrillation can prevent dementia or the development of Alzheimer's disease," says cardiologist John Day, M.D., director of heart rhythm services at Intermountain Medical Center and a co-author of the study.


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Contact: Jess Gomez
jess.gomez@imail.org
801-507-7455
Intermountain Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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