Dementia Tied to Resting Heart Rate

Findings persist even after accounting for cardiovascular disease

MEDPAGE TODAY – Higher resting heart rate (RHR) was linked to greater dementia risk and faster cognitive decline independent of cardiovascular disease in a study of more than 2,000 older adults in Sweden.

People with RHR of 80 bpm or higher had a 55% increased risk of developing dementia compared with people whose RHR was 60-69 bpm (adjusted HR 1.55, 95% CI 1.06-2.27), reported Yume Imahori, MD, PhD, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and co-authors.

The association remained significant after excluding people with prevalent and incident cardiovascular disease. Cognitive function scores fell over time in all RHR groups, but people with RHR of 80 bpm or higher declined more quickly than people with RHR of 60-69 bpm, Imahori and co-authors wrote in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Previously, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study showed that an RHR of 80 bpm or more in midlife raised the risk of cognitive decline and incident dementia as people aged.

“Our study showed that this finding was also applicable in RHR measured in late life,” Imahori told MedPage Today. “It further revealed that this association was not due to underlying cardiovascular diseases such as atrial fibrillation and heart failure.”

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“This study is important because RHR might be used to identify older people with a potentially high risk of cognitive decline in a wide variety of settings,” Imahori added.

“If cognitive function in patients with elevated RHR is followed carefully and early intervention is made, the onset of dementia might be delayed, which can have a substantial impact on patients’ quality of life,” she said. “If further studies show that this association is causal, reducing RHR might be considered as a target of intervention.”

Imahori and colleagues followed 2,147 older adults (62.1% women) in the Swedish National Aging and Care in Kungsholmen (SNAC-K) population-based study with a mean baseline age about 71.

All participants were dementia-free at baseline and followed regularly from 2001-2004 until 2013-2016. Cognition and dementia status were assessed at multiple timepoints … READ MORE. 

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