Approximately 15 percent of strokes may occur in people with atrial fibrillation, commonly referred to as an irregular heartbeat. A latest study now claims that stroke survivors with atrial fibrillation have a greater threat of dementia than stroke survivors who do not have the heart condition. The study findings supposedly aid in detecting potential treatments that can delay or even prevent the onset of dementia.

While conducting the study, scientists thoroughly scrutinized all the available studies where people with atrial fibrillation were compared to those without atrial fibrillation and followed to determine who developed dementia over time. So 15 studies were inspected which followed 46,637 participants with an average age of 72 years. It was pointed out that, stroke survivors with atrial fibrillation reportedly were 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia than stroke survivors who did not have the heart condition.

Almost 25 percent of patients with stroke and atrial fibrillation presumably developed dementia in the follow-up. Phyo Kyaw Myint, MD, of the University of East Anglia in Norfolk, U.K., study author and colleagues were unable to figure out whether people who have atrial fibrillation but not a stroke are also at a greater risk of dementia or not. It was suggested that more rigorous management options of cardiovascular risk factors or atrial fibrillation, especially in stroke patients, can be introduced to avoid dementia.

The study is published in the March 8, 2011, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.