The following is a guest post from Dr. Mark R. Luskin, MD, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the Neuropsychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center.
It was written for the blog Neurological Post, which is dedicated to the health and well-being of the mind.
This is a very complicated subject, but it’s one that deserves serious consideration.
A growing body of research shows that dementia patients are at an increased risk of heart failure.
This raises the question, what does it mean for a person with dementia to die from heart failure?
It’s a complex question.
What we know about heart failure in the general population is not very well documented.
We have only limited data about what happens to people with a particular form of dementia.
We also have limited data on the underlying causes of heart dysfunction.
In addition, the data we have about heart disease is very preliminary.
What’s more, some of the studies that have been done are only retrospective, meaning they only look at the results of an earlier study or a later study.
A few studies, like one by the Cleveland Clinic and one by Stanford University, show that a particular type of dementia is linked to heart failure (1).
It’s not clear if this is a new finding, or if the dementia was in fact more prevalent among the patients who were not diagnosed with dementia.
But if the data from the Cleveland and Stanford studies are to be believed, this association is real and it has serious implications for people with heart failure who may be struggling with their health.
This is a topic that needs serious discussion.
As the American Heart Association (AHA) has stated, “We all know the risks of heart diseases, but we rarely know what those risks are, or how they happen.
The role of the brain in heart failure, in particular, remains a mystery.
Understanding how heart failure happens in the brain may help us develop better therapies and treatments, which may prevent heart failure itself.”
The American Heart Foundation (AHF) has recently released a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on dementia, and it includes several papers that have looked at the links between dementia and heart failure: “A review of current and past studies shows that people with mild dementia have more heart failure risk factors than do people without dementia” (2).
The study looked at people who had been diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or mild Alzheimer disease (MD) or who had mild Alzheimer syndrome (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SNS) in the region of the hippocampus, which regulates motor and cognitive function.
The authors found that mild dementia is associated with a higher risk of death from heart disease, and that mild Alzheimer patients were at increased risk compared to mild Alzheimer controls.
They also found that people in mild dementia had a greater risk of stroke, heart attack, and death.
“In our meta-analysis, we found that a person’s cognitive function was negatively associated with the likelihood of death in the study from cardiovascular disease,” said the AHA.
“Our findings suggest that the brain’s aging processes can contribute to cardiovascular disease, but not in all cases” (3).
This suggests that dementia is a chronic condition that occurs in both people with and without heart failure and may contribute to their mortality.
Other studies have looked specifically at dementia patients who have heart failure compared to those who don’t (4).
For example, in a study of people with moderate to severe dementia, those with mild or moderate heart failure had a higher mortality risk than those who had no dementia (5).
Another study found that the risk of mortality increased significantly in people with type 1 diabetes (6) and in people who are overweight or obese (7).
However, this is not the whole story.
Other research suggests that people who have a history of heart attack may also be at an elevated risk of dying from heart attacks (8).
There’s also evidence that people living with a history or current diagnosis of diabetes may also have an increased mortality risk compared with people who don, or don’t have, diabetes (9).
So what do we know?
Well, dementia is not only a risk factor for death from cardiovascular diseases, it also appears to be a risk for death related to heart disease (10).
In addition to heart attack and stroke, the heart is an organ that is vital to maintaining the integrity of the body.
The heart can become damaged by a number of different types of heart problems, including cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation, and arrhythmias (11).
Cardiac arrhythmia is a type of heart defect in which the heart does not contract naturally, which can result in a condition known as cardiac arrhotal stenosis.
This can cause a sudden and severe heart attack or stroke.
This condition is more common in older people, but is more likely in people over 65 years old,