Elevated Resting Heart Rate Increases the Risk of Dementia

Elevated Resting Heart Rate Increases the Risk of Dementia

A new study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet suggests that adults aged 60 and over with an elevated resting heart rate (RHR) have a higher risk of dementia and accelerated cognitive decline. This link wasn’t affected by other risk factors connected with cardiovascular disease. 

Until recently, no research examined this link in the general population of older adults. This gap is addressed by this study, which involved 2,147 participants. The research team measured RHR with a standard electrocardiogram, and the global cognitive function was assessed with a mini examination of the mental state. The researchers gathered information about the participant’s age, education level, sex, smoking status, and physical activity.

Patients with RHRs of 80bpm or higher had, on average, a 55% increased risk of developing dementia than those whose RHRs were 60–69bpm. Even after considering age, sex, medications, behavioral factors, and current cardiovascular disease, the link between elevated RHR and cognitive decline remained significant. This study failed to determine a causal link, but it offered a plausible explanation for the association of an elevated RHR and cognitive decline.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Yume Imahori, believes that following an individual’s cognitive function and early intervention might delay the onset of dementia, which may significantly impact their quality of life. The researchers discuss possible mechanisms by which an elevated RHR might increase an individual’s risk of dementia. 

However, scientists have yet to examine whether underlying cardiovascular diseases explain this relationship or whether a high RHR is independently linked to cognitive decline. This is very important since a high RHR is connected to a higher risk of several cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, heart failure, asischemic heart disease, and atrial fibrillation. These diseases also pose a risk for dementia.

The risk of dementia might be minimized by increasing oxygen supplies to the brain through physical exercise and healthy nutrition that includes fruits and vegetables and excludes alcohol consumption. These lifestyle factors must be started as early as possible to receive the most benefits.

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

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