Summary: People with atrial fibrillation who have been treated with catheter ablation may have a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia than those who have not received the treatment.
People who have an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation and who are treated with a procedure called catheter ablation may have a reduced risk of dementia compared to those who are treated with medication alone.
The preliminary study published on April 18, 2023 will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 75e The annual meeting will be held in person in Boston and live online April 22-27, 2023.
Catheter ablation uses radio frequency through a tube in the heart to destroy small areas of heart tissue that may be causing the abnormal heart rhythm.
“Previous studies have shown that people with arrhythmia may have problems with thinking and long-term memory because of how this condition can affect blood flow to the brain,” said Bahadar Srichawla, DO, from the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School in Worcester and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Our results show that catheter ablation treatment is linked to a reduced risk of cognitive impairment.”
The study involved 887 people with an average age of 75 at the start of the study. Of this group, 193 people received catheter ablation.
Participants completed a memory and thinking test at the start of the study, at one year and at two years. This test included questions about short-term memory, attention, concentration and language. Scores ranged from zero to 30. Cognitive impairment was defined as a score of 23 or less. People who underwent catheter ablation had an average score of 25 compared to people who did not receive the procedure with an average score of 23.
After adjusting for factors such as heart disease, kidney disease, sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation risk score, those who underwent catheter ablation were 36% less likely to develop cognitive impairment than those who did not receive the procedure and were only treated with medication.
“Our results are encouraging, but many factors are considered when prescribing catheter ablation,” Srichawla added. “More research is needed to confirm our findings.”
A limitation of the study was that no blood flow test to the brain was recorded.
About this neurology research news
Author: Nathalie Conrad
Contact: Natalie Conrad – Ont.
Picture: Image is in public domain
Original research: Findings will be presented at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology