Recent studies have identified an increased risk of dementia in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). However, both AF and dementia usually manifest late in life. Few studies have investigated this association in adults with early-onset dementia. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between AF and early-onset dementia.
Methods and Results
We searched the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, and Scopus databases through April 15, 2022, for studies reporting on the association between AF and dementia in adults aged <70 years, without language restrictions. Two reviewers independently performed the study selection, assessed the risk of bias, and extracted the study data. We performed a meta-analysis of early-onset dementia risk according to occurrence of AF using a random-effects model. We retrieved and screened 1006 potentially eligible studies. We examined the full text of 33 studies and selected the 6 studies that met our inclusion criteria. The pooled analysis of their results showed an increased risk of developing dementia in individuals with AF, with a summary relative risk of 1.50 (95% CI, 1.00-2.26) in patients aged <70 years, and 1.06 (95% CI, 0.55-2.06) in those aged <65 years.
In this systematic review and meta-analysis, AF was a risk factor for dementia in adults aged <70 years, with an indication of a slight and statistically imprecise excess risk already at ages <65 years. Further research is needed to assess which characteristics of the arrhythmia and which mechanisms play a role in this relationship.