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According to Medical Xpress
Blood-thinning drugs not only reduce the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) but are also associated with a significant reduction in the risk of dementia, according to new research published today (Wednesday) in the European Heart Journal.
Among 444,106 patients with atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart rhythm), those who were taking anticoagulant drugs to prevent blood clots at the start of the study had a 29% lower risk of developing dementia than patients who were not on anticoagulant treatment. When the researchers looked at what happened during the period of time that the patients continued to take the drugs, they found an even bigger, 48% reduction in the risk of dementia.
This is the largest study ever to examine the link between anticoagulant treatment and dementia in AF patients. It looked at data from Swedish registries for patients between 2006 and 2014, and, despite its retrospective nature, which means it cannot show causal effect, the researchers believe that the results strongly suggest that oral anticoagulants protect against dementia in AF patients.
“In order to prove this assumption, randomized placebo controlled trials would be needed, but… such studies cannot be done because of ethical reasons. It is not possible to give placebo to AF patients and then wait for dementia or stroke to occur,” write Leif Friberg and Mårten Rosenqvist from the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden) in their EHJ paper.
AF is known to carry an increased risk of stroke and dementia, and anticoagulants have been shown to reduce the likelihood of stroke. Until now it was not clear whether anticoagulants could also prevent dementia; however, it was thought possible because if the drugs can prevent the big blood clots that cause stroke, they might also protect against the small clots that can cause unnoticed microscopic strokes that eventually lead to cognitive deterioration.
The researchers identified all patients in Sweden who had a diagnosis of AF between 2006-2014. They checked on what drugs had been prescribed and dispensed following the diagnosis. They followed the patients’ progress and this provided them with 1.5 million years of follow-up, during which time 26,210 patients were diagnosed with dementia.
This article and images were originally posted on [Medical Xpress] October 25, 2017 at 01:42AM
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