Oral Anticoagulants May Reduce Risk of Dementia

Patients taking anticoagulants for atrial fibrillation were at a much lower risk of developing dementia than the individuals who were not, another study has revealed. The retrospective study, the largest to date to look at the association between the medications and dementia, examined information for just more than 444,000 Swedish patients who had an atrial fibrillation diagnosis from a hospital. Just over half of the patients of the patients were not taking any oral anticoagulant treatment, and the rest of the patients were taking either warfarin or a NOAC.

The scientists from the Danderyd University Hospital, Stockholm, found that patients taking anticoagulants had a 29% decreased the risk of developing dementia, which rose to a 48% diminished risk when they looked at the time period during which the patients took the medications. They noticed that the protective impact against dementia was more prominent the sooner oral anticoagulant treatment was begun.

They said in the paper, which was published in the European Heart Journal: ‘Our outcomes strongly recommend that OAC treatment ensures against dementia in AF. In order to demonstrate this assumption, randomized placebo-controlled trials would be required, however previously pointed out, such researches is impossible as a result of ethical reasons. It isn’t possible to give a placebo to AF patients and then wait for dementia or stroke to happen.

‘Accordingly, we need to do the second best, which is to utilize the data in population-wide health databases for retrospective studies while trying to control for biases and confounders the best we can.’ Dr. Leif Friberg, lead author and associate professor of cardiology at the Karolinska Insitute, remarked: ‘Patients begin on oral anticoagulation for stroke prevention but they stop following a couple of years at an alarmingly high rate. In the first year, approximately 15% quit taking the medications, at that point around 10% every year. In this study, we found that only 54% of patients were on oral anticoagulant treatment.

If you know that AF consumes your brain at a moderate but steady pace and that you can avoid it by remaining on treatment, I think most AF patients would find this a very strong argument for continuing treatment.

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