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Blood-thinning drugs could protect against dementia

Patients with an irregular heartbeat can almost halve their risk of developing dementia by taking anticoagulants, research suggests

Blood-thinning drugs could protect against dementia in patients with a heart rhythm abnormality, research undertaken in Scandinavia found.

Illustration showing a heart and EKG with atrial fibrillation, a
heart rhythm abnormality. Picture: Science Photo Library

A team in Sweden examined the records of 444,106 patients who were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation between 2006 and 2014 and had no previous diagnosis of dementia.

Every patient was monitored and 26,210 were found to have dementia.

Of the patients with atrial fibrillation, 45% were shown to have collected an oral anticoagulant from a pharmacy within a month of diagnosis.

Strongest predictors

Patients who developed dementia were older and had more comorbidities than those who did not.

The strongest predictors for dementia were age, Parkinson’s disease, absence of anticoagulant treatment and alcohol abuse.

Patients having anticoagulant treatment had a 48% lower risk of dementia than those who did not.

Direct comparison between new oral anticoagulants and warfarin showed no difference in the study, published in the European Heart Journal.

Friberg L & Rosenquist M (2017) Less dementia with oral anticoagulation in atrial fibrillation. European Heart Journal.

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