Background: A potential evidence from previous epidemiological studies remains conflicting findings regarding the association between atrial fibrillation (AF) and dementia risk. We, therefore, carried out a meta-analysis of relevant studies to investigate the magnitude of the association between AF and dementia risk. Methods: We performed a systematic literature search of PubMed, EMBASE, and Google Scholar for potential studies between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 2018, with no restriction on the publication language. All potential studies were independently assessed by two reviewers. We only included observational studies that calculated the odds ratio (OR)/hazards ratio (HR) for dementia associated with atrial fibrillation. We first assessed the heterogeneity among study-specific HRs using the Q statistic and I2 statistic. We then used the random-effects model to obtain the overall HR and its 95% CI for all studies. We also tested and corrected for publication bias by funnel plot–based methods. The quality of each study was assessed with the Newcastle Ottawa Scale. Results: A total of 16 studies with 2,415,356 individuals, and approximately 200,653 cases of incidence dementia were included in this study. Patients with AF had a greater risk of incidence dementia than those without AF (random-effect hazard ratio HR: 1.36, 95% CI: 1.23–1.51, p < 0.0001; I2 = 83.58). Funnel plot and Egger test did not reveal significant publication bias. However, limitations of the study included high heterogeneity and varying degrees of confounder adjustment across individual studies. Conclusion: This study serves as added evidence supporting the hypothesis that AF is associated with an increased risk of dementia. More studies are needed to establish whether optimal treatment of AF can reduce or mitigate the risk of dementia.
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