4 out of 10 AF patients have unknown brain damage

Study may explain the link between dementia and atrial fibrillation

Many atrial fibrillation patients have unknown brain damage which may help explain the link between AF and dementia in patients who haven’t had a stroke, researchers say.

Among almost 1400 patients with AF but no history of stroke, 41% had silent brain damage, including cerebral infarcts, according to the first results from the Swiss Atrial Fibrillation Cohort (Swiss-AF) study.

The results suggested that clinically unrecognised brain damage might explain the association between dementia and AF in patients without prior stroke, according to co-principal investigator Professor David Conen from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.

About 1700 patients with AF enrolled in the wider Swiss-AF study were selected for the current study. 

After patients with a past history of stroke or TIA were excluded, MRI brain scans were performed on the almost 1400 remaining participants.