Atrial Fibrillation, Warfarin Use May Increase Dementia Risk

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Patients taking warfarin had an increased risk of developing dementia.
Patients taking warfarin had an increased risk of developing dementia.

HealthDay News — Patients with atrial fibrillation may have a heightened risk of developing dementia — and the quality of their anticoagulation treatment may play a role, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society, held from May 4 to 7 in San Francisco.

The findings are based on records from 10,537 patients who were on warfarin for atrial fibrillation or to prevent thromboembolism from other causes. Over 6 to 8 years, 5.8% of the atrial fibrillation patients developed dementia, including Alzheimer's disease — versus 1.6% of other warfarin patients.

After adjustment for age and health quality, the atrial fibrillation patients had more than double the risk of dementia than that of other patients. Compared with patients whose warfarin was in therapeutic range more than 75% of the time, those who were usually out of range had 2.5 to 4 times the odds of developing dementia.

T. Jared Bunch, MD, the lead researcher on the study and cardiologist at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, told HealthDay that the findings uncover two potential concerns: Patients with atrial fibrillation may face an increased risk of dementia, independent of warfarin use, but warfarin might also contribute to dementia if the doses are not optimal. "If people's levels of warfarin were erratic, their dementia risk was higher, whether they had atrial fibrillation or not," Bunch said.

Reference

  1. Atrial Fibrillation Patients Treated with Long-term Warfarin Anticoagulation Have Higher Rates of All Dementia Types Compared to Patients Receiving Warfarin Long-term for Other Indications. http://www.hrsonline.org/News/Press-Releases/2016/05/New-Study-Shows-Atrial-Fibrillation-Patients-Treated-With-Warfarin-Long-Term-Are-At-Increased-Risk-For-Dementia. Published online May 5, 2016.
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