In a new study from Karolinska Institutet, researchers found having an elevated resting heart rate in old age may be an independent risk factor of dementia.
Since resting heart rate is easy to measure and can be lowered through exercise or medical treatment, it may help to identify people with higher dementia risk for early intervention.
The number of people living with dementia is expected to increase to 139 million globally by 2050, from 55 million in 2020, according to the organization Alzheimer’s Disease International.
Currently, there is no cure for dementia, but growing evidence suggests that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and heart health could help delay the onset of dementia and ease symptoms.
In this study, the researchers examined if resting heart rate in 2,147 individuals 60 years old or older could be linked to dementia and cognitive decline independent of other known risk factors, such as heart disease.
They followed the participants for up to 12 years and showed that individuals with a resting heart rate of 80 beats per minute or higher on average had a 55% higher risk of dementia than those with a heart rate of 60–69 beats per minute.
The researchers offer several plausible explanations for the association, including the effect of underlying heart diseases and risk factors, stiffened arteries, and imbalance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve activities.
They believe it would be valuable to explore if resting heart rate could identify patients with high dementia risk.
If researchers follow such patients’ cognitive function carefully and intervene early, the onset of dementia might be delayed, which can have a substantial impact on their quality of life.
If you care about dementia risk, please read studies about the common food that could increase your dementia risk, and findings of 12 things that could prevent dementia effectively.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about walking speed that may show your dementia and depression risks, and results showing that Mediterranean diet may strongly prevent dementia, memory loss.
The study is published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. One author of the study is Yume Imahori.
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