Could Anticoagulants Reduce Risk of Dementia

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iStock_000011047279XSmall-300x199.jpgWith more and more caregivers facing challenges related to dementia, new research is always welcome. A new study published in the European Heart Journal provides some interesting information regarding people with atrial fibrillation and the risk of dementia.

According to the Swedish study conducted by the Karolinska Institute, the use of anticoagulants in people with atrial fibrillation appears to be linked to a 48% reduced risk of developing dementia.

This is significant because earlier studies have shown that people with atrial fibrillation tend to be at an increased risk of developing dementia.  Now the new study indicates that this risk can be lowered if they are on oral anticoagulant medication.


Commonly called AFib, atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the heartbeat is irregular.  It can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other cardiac issues. As many as 3 million Americans have AFib, many of whom may not be aware of the fact.

In the study, which looked at 444,000 patients, benefits appeared to be associated with use of both older and newer anticoagulants. Also, the earlier treatment started, the greater the chance of benefit.

Anticoagulants are used to prevent large strokes that are typically associated with blood clotting. Dementia is often associated with small blood clots and microinfarctions, so it is theorized that this is why the blood thinners may help prevent dementia.

General Population

If the study indicates that using anticoagulants helps prevent dementia in people with AFib, does that mean that people who do not have AFib should start taking blood thinners? Unfortunately, because the study only looked at the connection between AFib patients and blood thinners, it’s not possible to make that recommendation. However, it does suggest that a future trial needs to be set up to look at that possibility.

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