People suffering from heart disease may be at greater risk of cognitive impairment, according to a new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation that researchers say shows the deep link between the diseases, CBC reports.
The study, entitled "(Dis)Connected", was based on an analysis of 2.6 million hospitalizations in Canada between 2007 and 2017, and underlies what the authors say is the connection is between heart disease and brain conditions, such as stroke and cognitive decline.
"The most startling finding is that people with heart conditions have a significantly increased risk of vascular cognitive impairment and possibly dementia, because of their underlying vascular disease," said Yves Savoie, the CEO of the foundation, in a news release.
Dr. Jodi Edwards with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute said while emerging data already highlights associations between these diseases, this new report probes even deeper into what those connections are and the extent.
"This is really important because in the aging population we're really seeing individuals that have multiple conditions," Edwards said. "Heart and brain diseases are much more connected than we previously thought. So if you're at risk for one, you're at risk for both."
The study found:
- People with heart failure are 2.6 times more likely to experience vascular cognitive impairment such as dementia.
- People with congenital heart disease may have triple the risk of early onset vascular cognitive impairment.
- People with atrial fibrillation — an irregular or rapid heart beat — are also 1.4 times more likely to experience vascular cognitive impairment.
- People with heart valve disease have a 25 per cent increased risk of vascular cognitive impairment.
- Thirty per cent of people who experienced a second stroke are at risk of developing vascular impairment.
"This is something that's an important problem and going to be a real burden both for patients and for our health systems," Edwards said.