New study shows atrial fibrillation related to smaller brain volumes

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A new study found atrial fibrillation has been associated with smaller brains and smaller frontal lobes.

The Framingham Heart study conducted by researchers at Boston University, published July 11 in the journal Heart Rhythm, looked at the relationship between atrial fibrillation and brain volumes in more than 2,000 people.

Of the sample population without prior stroke or dementia conditions, 73 had prevalent atrial fibrillation at the time they received an MRI during the study.

The researchers studied patients’ total cerebral volume, frontal lobe volume, temporal lobe volume, hippocampal volume and white matter hyper-intensity volume. Results showed atrial fibrillation was associated with smaller frontal lobe volumes, even after adjusting for age, gender, vascular risk factors and APOE4, a gene linked to smaller brain volumes.

Rhoda Au, PhD, a professor at Boston University’s Schools of Medicine and Public Health and the director of neuropsychology for the Framingham Heart study, said in a statement that further research will be done to determine whether the findings could have an impact on cognitive skills like problem solving, memory and language.