AF without stroke raises risk of dementia

Regardless of whether patients were receiving antihypertensives or whether they had an overt stroke, those with AF had an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia, the study of 31,546 patients found.

The patients were more likely to lose independence and struggle to perform tasks associated with daily living and were more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility, said the researchers from the George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, and colleagues from European and Canadian institutes.

Overall, about a third of the patients with AF experienced at least one of those negative consequences, compared with a quarter of patients without AF. 

Among the cohort, 3.3% had AF at baseline, and 6.5% developed it during follow-up.

Clinical stroke expert Professor Geoffrey Donnan, director of Florey Neuroscience Institutes, Melbourne, said the findings highlighted the importance of screening for and treating AF.