Latest University research on dementia and strokes.

Dementia risk is higher in people with both stroke and irregular heartbeat, reveals latest University research
Edited by Andy Porter >
Stroke patients who also suffer from an irregular heartbeat are at double the risk of developing dementia, according to a new study by the University of East Anglia [UEA].

Published in the journal Neurology, the findings show that stroke survivors with an irregular heartbeat – or atrial fibrillation – are 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia than stroke survivors without the heart condition.
The researchers analysed 15 studies with more than 45,000 participants and an average age of 72. They compared patients with and without atrial fibrillation, and followed–up to determine which developed dementia over time. Around a quarter of patients with both stroke and atrial fibrillation were subsequently found to have developed dementia.

“These results offer convincing evidence of a link between irregular heartbeat and dementia in patients with stroke and could help us identify treatments that delay or even prevent the onset of dementia,” said lead author Dr Phyo Myint of Norwich Medical School at UEA.
“Options include more rigorous management of cardiovascular risk factors or of atrial fibrillation, particularly in stroke patients.”
The study is the first high–quality meta–analysis of the potential role of atrial fibrillation in the development of dementia. Though the results show a clear association in stroke patients, Dr Myint warned that signs of a link in the general population, as suggested by some earlier studies, were inconclusive.
“There remains considerable uncertainty about any link in the broader population,” he said.
There are around 750,000 people with dementia in the UK and 60,000 deaths are attributed to the disease every year. The number of dementia cases is expected to rise by around 150 per cent over the next 40 years. The disease is little understood but the risk of developing dementia is thought to be multifactorial. Risk factors include older age, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.