Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants could cut the risk of dementia for patients with atrial fibrillation, researchers find

A comprehensive study of atrial fibrillation patients in Sweden has found that not taking an oral anticoagulant is a risk factor for dementia, independent of age, Parkinson’s disease and alcohol abuse.

warfarin blood thinner for atrial fibrillation

Source: Thinglass/Shutterstock

Swedish researchers found that absence of oral anticoagulant was an independent risk factor for dementia, and that there was no difference in risk reduction between warfarin and newer oral anticoagulants

Oral anticoagulants are associated with a significant reduction in the risk of dementia in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a study published in the European Heart Journal (online, 24 October 2017)[1].

The retrospective study examined data from all patients (444,106) in Sweden with a hospital diagnosis of AF and no previous diagnosis of dementia between 2006 and 2014.

When the patients were analysed according to the treatment they were taking when enrolled in the study, it was found that those patients assigned anticoagulant treatment to reduce their risk of stroke had a 29% lower risk of dementia than patients not taking anticoagulant treatment.

In an analysis of the events that happened while patients were on anticoagulant treatment, the researchers found a 48% reduction in the risk of dementia compared with those who did not take anticoagulants.

Patients who developed dementia were found to be older and had more comorbidities than patients who did not develop dementia. The researchers concluded that absence of oral anticoagulant was an independent risk factor for dementia, along with age, Parkinson’s disease and alcohol abuse.

“Our study showed a strong relationship between absence of anticoagulant treatment and dementia when analysed according to medication at baseline, which became even stronger when we took the actual exposure of anticoagulants during the study period into account,” said Leif Friberg, associate professor in cardiology at the Karolinska Institute and author of the study.

“We used all available methods to adjust for cofactors, and even for the detection of hidden confounding,” he said, adding that although a randomised control trial would prove or disprove a causal relationship, such a study could not be carried out due to ethical reasons.

“You can’t give patients with atrial fibrillation and risk of stroke placebo in order to see if they develop dementia or not.

“I am as certain as one can be within the limitations of a retrospective observational study, that we have detected a causal relationship.”

In addition, no difference in risk reduction was found between warfarin and newer oral anticoagulants.

According to Friberg the results are important because patients frequently stop taking their anticoagulant drugs.

“In Sweden, we are getting pretty good at starting patients on anticoagulants when they get their diagnosis, but then 10–15% drop off from treatment each year.”

“If patients (and doctors) were made aware of [the link between anticoagulants and dementia] I am convinced that far more patients than now would hang on to their protective treatment.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203803

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Lecture Notes in Pharmacy Practice

    Lecture Notes in Pharmacy Practice

    A comprehensive study guide which summarises the basic principles in pharmacy practice. Clear, bulleted information for quick reference.

    £42.00Buy now
  • Disease Management

    Disease Management

    Disease Management covers the diseases commonly encountered in primary care by system, with common therapeutic issues. Includes case studies and self-assessment sections.

    £52.00Buy now
  • Drugs and the Liver

    Drugs and the Liver

    Drugs and the Liver assists practitioners in making pragmatic choices for their patients. It enables you to assess liver function and covers the principles of drug use in liver disease.

    £37.00Buy now
  • Introduction to Renal Therapeutics

    Introduction to Renal Therapeutics

    Introduction to Renal Therapeutics covers all aspects of drug use in renal failure. Shows the role of the pharmacist in patient care for chronic kidney disease.

    £37.00Buy now
  • Drugs of Abuse

    Drugs of Abuse

    A concise, easy-to-read guide for healthcare professionals who encounter drug abuse.

    £37.00Buy now
  • Integrated Pharmacy Case Studies

    Integrated Pharmacy Case Studies

    Over 90 case studies based on real life patient-care scenarios. Each case includes learning outcomes and references.

    £42.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • warfarin blood thinner for atrial fibrillation

Jobs you might like

See more jobs

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.