FEB 12, 2018 12:55 PM PST

Adults with Heart Defects More Likely to Have Dementia

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Thanks to modern medicine, more and more people born with congenital heart defects survive past childhood. However, with that survival comes a realization of the risk of dementia. A new study shows that adults born with heart defects are more likely to develop early-onset dementia, which is defined by experiencing symptoms before reaching age 65.

Fluorescent image of cultivated neutrophils isolated from venous blood of human with Alzheimer Disease. Credit: Wikimedia user Ltumanovskaya

Dementia is a term that describes conditions where patients experience memory decline and other cognitive impairments. For example, Alzheimer’s disease is considered a common type of dementia. From Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, researchers show how all kinds of dementia are more likely to affect the 1.4 million adults living with heart defects in the United States.

"Previous studies showed that people born with heart defects have a higher risk of neurodevelopmental problems in childhood, such as epilepsy and autism, but this is, to our knowledge, the first study to examine the potential for dementia later in adult life," explained lead author Carina N. Bagge, B.Sc.

Bagge and other researchers recruited 10,623 adults born with heart defects to compare to healthy controls for the new observational study. They found that the risk of any type of dementia for the adults with heart defects was 60 percent higher than the general population. The risk differential of early-onset dementia was even greater: 160 percent higher than the general population.

Additionally, the study showed that the risk of dementia was even higher when adults born with heart defects also had other risk factors for heart disease, including atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and diabetes. Individuals born with heart defects are more likely to develop these factors, but these heart disease risk factors also increase the risk of dementia independently of congenital heart defects.

In response to the results of the study, researchers highlight the importance of applying new knowledge to clinical screenings in order to predict or event prevent the onset of dementia. However, they also stress the importance of considering how medicine has changed over the past century.

“Modern treatment has improved greatly, and as a result we can't directly generalize these results to children born today,” Bagge explained. “We need further work to understand the risks in the modern era.”

Sources: Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 06, 2020
Cardiology
Identifying a Prognostic Biomarker for Neurological Deterioration After a Stroke
AUG 06, 2020
Identifying a Prognostic Biomarker for Neurological Deterioration After a Stroke
Strokes are life-changing events that can cause a myriad of issues even after it is over. Plenty of tests, such as the n ...
AUG 08, 2020
Cardiology
Identifying Connections Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Cardiovascular Health
AUG 08, 2020
Identifying Connections Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Cardiovascular Health
Most people recognize rheumatoid arthritis as a disease that weakens the joints. It is actually an autoimmune disease, w ...
SEP 10, 2020
Cardiology
Many Doctors Have Used the Wrong Criteria to Diagnose Hypertension
SEP 10, 2020
Many Doctors Have Used the Wrong Criteria to Diagnose Hypertension
A recent survey has shown that most health care professionals may not be using the current information to screen for and ...
OCT 04, 2020
Cardiology
The Genetics of Body Fat May Shape Health Risks
OCT 04, 2020
The Genetics of Body Fat May Shape Health Risks
The work may help explain why men and women are at risk for different diseases and often respond to different treatments ...
DEC 29, 2020
Cardiology
Does Physical Activity Help Reduce the Risk of Aneurysms?
DEC 29, 2020
Does Physical Activity Help Reduce the Risk of Aneurysms?
An active lifestyle is a proven way to prevent many types of cardiovascular diseases. The increased blood flow can preve ...
JAN 12, 2021
Cardiology
SGLT2 Inhibitors Can Reduce the Cardiovascular Risk for Diabetics Being Treated with Insulin
JAN 12, 2021
SGLT2 Inhibitors Can Reduce the Cardiovascular Risk for Diabetics Being Treated with Insulin
One of the biggest problems that come alongside diabetes is the increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Treatment of d ...
Loading Comments...