Prevention of Dementia in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation

Korean Circ J. 2021 Apr;51(4):308-319. doi: 10.4070/kcj.2021.0027.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common form of arrhythmia in the elderly population and increases stroke risk by a factor of 4- to 5-fold. There is increasing evidence to suggest that incident AF may contribute to the development of dementia, independent of overt stroke. In particular, relatively younger patients with AF are more prone to dementia development than older patients with AF. Evidence is accumulating regarding the possible treatment strategies for preventing dementia in patients with AF. Oral anticoagulation may be effective for reducing the risk of dementia, even in patients with low stroke risks. Among oral anticoagulants, the use of non-vitamin K antagonists have been associated with a considerably decreased risk of dementia than warfarin. Moreover, successful catheter ablation for AF has also been associated with decreased dementia risk compared to medical therapy, suggesting that restoration of sinus rhythm, and not the ablation procedure itself, as the important mechanism in the prevention of AF-associated dementia. Among midlife patients with AF, there appeared to be a U-shaped association of blood pressure (BP) and a linear association of hypertension with dementia risk. A BP of 120 to 129/80 to 84 mmHg has been identified as the optimal range. Finally, integrated management of AF was associated with a reduced risk of dementia in AF patients.

Keywords: Anticoagulants; Atrial fibrillation; Catheter ablation; Dementia; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Review