Childhood heart defect survivors at high dementia risk

London: People born with heart defects may be at higher risk of developing dementia in adulthood, according to a new research.

The findings, led by scientists from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, showed that the risk of dementia was higher in people born with heart defects who developed other heart disease risk factors later in life, such as atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and diabetes.

For these people, the risk of dementia from any cause, including vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and others, was 60 per cent higher overall than the general population.

They were also 160 per cent (2.6 times) at higher risk for developing early-onset dementia before age 65 and 30 per cent higher risk for dementia after age 65, said the researchers in a paper published in the journal Circulation.

“Previous studies showed that people born with heart defects have a higher risk of neurodevelopmental problems in childhood, such as epilepsy and autism, but this is, to our knowledge, the first study to examine the potential for dementia later in adult life,” said lead author Carina N.Bagge, from the varsity.

For the study, the team examined the occurrence of dementia in 10,632 individuals (46 per cent male) born with heart defects, matching each with 10 members of the general population.

While the researchers did find an association, the study does not mean that every person who was born with a heart defect will develop dementia. The study observed a higher risk but did not prove cause and effect.