Fixing a problem with the heart may be good for your brain

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Atrial fibrillation is a condition that affects the heart’s rhythm, causing it to beat irregularly and sometimes rapidly. It is estimated that up to 6 million people in the United States have atrial fibrillation.

This condition can lead to several complications, including stroke, heart failure, and cognitive impairment.

Catheter ablation is a medical procedure used to treat atrial fibrillation by destroying small areas of heart tissue that may be causing the abnormal heartbeat.

The procedure involves inserting a tube with radiofrequency into the heart and heating up the tissue to destroy it.

It is a relatively safe and effective treatment for atrial fibrillation, but its impact on cognitive function has not been fully understood.

In a study released on April 18, 2023, researchers found that people who underwent catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation may have a reduced risk of developing cognitive impairment compared to those who were treated with medication alone.

The study involved 887 people with an average age of 75, of which 193 received catheter ablation.

The participants completed a memory and thinking test at the start of the study, one year later, and two years later.

The test included questions regarding short-term memory, attention, concentration, and language. Cognitive impairment was defined as a score of 23 or less.

People who received catheter ablation had an average score of 25 compared to people who did not receive the procedure with an average score of 23.

After adjusting for factors such as heart disease, renal disease, sleep apnea, and atrial fibrillation risk score, those who underwent catheter ablation were 36% less likely to develop cognitive impairment than those who did not receive the procedure and were treated only with medication.

While these results are encouraging, the researchers caution that more research is needed to confirm their findings.

It is also important to note that there are many factors taken into consideration when catheter ablation is prescribed, and the procedure may not be suitable for everyone with atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, but this study suggests that treating the condition with catheter ablation may reduce that risk.

However, more research is needed to fully understand the impact of catheter ablation on cognitive function and to determine which patients would benefit the most from the procedure.

How to prevent Atrial fibrillation

Preventing atrial fibrillation (AFib) involves adopting a healthy lifestyle and managing underlying health conditions that may contribute to the condition. Here are some steps that may help prevent or manage AFib:

Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing AFib. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight may reduce the risk of developing AFib.

Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help prevent or manage many health conditions that contribute to AFib, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

Manage high blood pressure: High blood pressure is a common cause of AFib. Regular monitoring of blood pressure and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor can help manage high blood pressure and reduce the risk of AFib.

Manage diabetes: People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing AFib. Good blood sugar control and regular monitoring can help reduce the risk.

Avoid excessive alcohol intake: Excessive alcohol consumption is a common trigger of AFib. Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Quit smoking: Smoking is a risk factor for many health conditions, including AFib. Quitting smoking can help reduce the risk of AFib and other health conditions.

Manage stress: Chronic stress can increase the risk of developing AFib. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises, can help manage stress.

Treat sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a common cause of AFib. Treating sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy can help reduce the risk of developing AFib.

It is important to work with your doctor to develop a personalized prevention plan based on your individual health needs and risk factors.

If you care about heart health, please read studies that yogurt may help lower the death risks in heart disease, and coconut sugar could help reduce artery stiffness.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and epilepsy drug may help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 75th Annual Meeting.

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