SEP 01, 2016 8:08 AM PDT

Heart arrhythmia linked to smaller brains

Image Credit: iStockphoto

People who experience atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart arrhythmia, may also have a smaller brain—specifically, reduced frontal lobe volume—a new study suggests.

AF is a serious cardiovascular condition that is associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and death, as well as cognitive decline and increased risk of dementia. But little is known about the impact of AF on brain structure in people whose cognition is intact.

For the new study, researchers used MRI to look at the relationship between AF and brain volume. They examined total cerebral volume, frontal lobe volume, temporal lobe volume, hippocampal volume, and white matter hyper-intensity volume in patients without prior stroke or dementia.

The findings, published in the journal Heart Rhythm, show that AF is associated with smaller frontal lobe volumes, even after adjusting for age, gender, vascular risk factors, and APOE4 (a gene independently linked to smaller brain volumes).

“We believe that good heart health also contributes to good brain health, and given that the incidence of AF is expected to more than double in the next three decades, we are interested in understanding the association between AF and brain anatomy,” says corresponding author Rhoda Au, professor of epidemiology and neurology at Boston University. School of Medicine and School of Public Health and director of neuropsychology for the Framingham Heart Study.

Further research will focus on determining whether these brain-structure findings translate into an impact on cognitive skills, such as problem solving, memory, and language.

Other researchers from Boston University and from the University of California at San Francisco are coauthors of the study that was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Source: Boston University

This article was originally published on Futurity.org.
About the Author
  • Futurity features the latest discoveries by scientists at top research universities in the US, UK, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The nonprofit site, which launched in 2009, is supported solely by its university partners (listed below) in an effort to share research news directly with the public.
You May Also Like
AUG 23, 2020
Cardiology
Gaining Insight Into a Mysterious Network of Fibers in the Heart
AUG 23, 2020
Gaining Insight Into a Mysterious Network of Fibers in the Heart
Leonardo da Vinci knew about a mesh, fibrous network surrounding the heart, and after hundreds of years, scientists are ...
SEP 17, 2020
Cardiology
Can Grape Polyphenol Extracts prevent Cardiotoxicity?
SEP 17, 2020
Can Grape Polyphenol Extracts prevent Cardiotoxicity?
One of the biggest issues with chemotherapy treatments is their inherent toxicities. Most chemotherapy drugs are toxic t ...
NOV 05, 2020
Cardiology
Investigating Platelet-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Blood Clotting
NOV 05, 2020
Investigating Platelet-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Blood Clotting
In our bodies, there are millions of signals and packages being sent and received every second. In the past several deca ...
DEC 10, 2020
Cardiology
CircRNAs as Prognostic Indicators for Atrial Fibrillation
DEC 10, 2020
CircRNAs as Prognostic Indicators for Atrial Fibrillation
The use of genetics in therapies and diagnostics has boomed over the decades. While many of these breakthroughs focus on ...
DEC 22, 2020
Cardiology
A New 3D Imaging Method for Atherosclerosis Analysis in Mice
DEC 22, 2020
A New 3D Imaging Method for Atherosclerosis Analysis in Mice
Imaging in research may not sound glamorous, but how else would news stories get those cool looking science photos for t ...
FEB 18, 2021
Cardiology
Ongoing Heart Problems in Discharged COVID-19 Patients
FEB 18, 2021
Ongoing Heart Problems in Discharged COVID-19 Patients
About 50 percent of patients that are discharged from the hospital after recovering from a severe case of COVID-19 who e ...
Loading Comments...