People born with congenital heart defects appear to have a higher risk of developing early-onset dementia than people without heart defects, suggests research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. Early-onset dementia typically develops before age 65.
For this study, researchers at the Department of Clinical Epidemiology at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark analyzed dementia cases in 10,632 adults born with heart defects between 1890 and 1982 in Danish hospitals. They matched each study participant with 10 adults in the general population of the same gender, born the same year. The researchers found that risk of any type of dementia – including vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – was 60 percent higher overall in people born with a congenital heart defect than in the general population, 160 percent higher for early-onset dementia, and 30 percent higher for dementia diagnosed after 65.
Due to improved treatments for congenital heart defects – heart problems that are present at birth –more people with the conditions survive into adulthood. According to a 2016 study, approximately 1.4 million adults in the United States were born with a congenital heart defect.