We think of Alzheimer's disease as a brain disorder – but new research suggests the answer may be closer to the heart.
A recent study found a link between dementia and atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart are out of synch with the lower chambers, failing to pump blood and leading to an abnormal heartbeat.
The study, presented recently at the Heart Rhythm Society's annual meeting, looked at 37,000 people at 20 hospitals and found that folks with that heart condition were 44 percent more likely to develop dementia over a five-year period than those without it.
There's an even stronger connection for those under the age of 70 with atrial fibrillation. They're 130 percent more likely to develop dementia.
And in all cases, folks with both dementia and atrial fibrillation were 61 percent more likely to die during the five-year study period.
More research is needed before anyone can say for sure whether atrial fibrillation is a possible cause of dementia, but there's enough data now to establish a link.
The researchers believe there are three possible explanations for that link.
High blood pressure can reduce the flow of blood to the brain, depriving the cells of oxygen. And that, in turn, can lead to dementia.
We spoke about the importance of keeping your blood pressure in check just last week, and here's extra motivation to make sure you keep at it.
The other possible causes of the connection include inflammation and small "sub-clinical" strokes. Believe me when I tell you Big Pharma is standing by ready to sell you statins and anti-clotting drugs if they can market them as dementia-prevention meds too.
But you don't need them.
There are natural and effective ways to control your blood pressure that your doctor probably doesn't even know about. I offered up a detailed plan in the May issue of Health Revelations. Click here to subscribe now and get complete access to the archives, and you may never worry about your blood pressure again.
There is no magic cure for Alzheimer's, but there are ways to help prevent it or delay the onset of dementia. Later this week, we'll talk about the importance of staying mentally engaged as you get older.
The key thing to understand, though, is that the answer is not in some new medication – but likely something already inside your body.