London: Having an elevated resting heart rate in old age may be an independent risk factor of dementia, a new study suggests.
The study, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, showed that individuals with a resting heart rate of 80 beats per minute or higher on average had a 55 per cent higher risk of dementia than those with a heart rate of 60-69 beats per minute.
“We believe it would be valuable to explore if resting heart rate could identify patients with high dementia risk,” said lead author Yume Imahori from Karolinska Institutet.
“If we follow such patients’ cognitive function carefully and intervene early, the onset of dementia might be delayed, which can have a substantial impact on their quality of life,” Imahori added.
For the study, the team examined if resting heart rate in 2,147 individuals 60 years old or older and could be linked to dementia and cognitive decline independent of other known risk factors, such as cardiovascular disease.
The team also found that the association remained significant after adjusting for potential confounders such as various cardiovascular diseases.
Since resting heart rate is easy to measure and can be lowered through exercise or medical treatment, the researchers believe that it may help to identify people with higher dementia risk for early intervention.
The number of people living with dementia is expected to increase to 139 million globally by 2050, from 55 million in 2020, according to the organisation Alzheimer’s Disease International.
Currently, there is no cure for dementia, but growing evidence suggests that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and cardiovascular health could help delay the onset of dementia and ease symptoms.