Nav: Home

Atrial fibrillation patients are at increased risk of dementia, regardless of anticoagulation use

November 15, 2016

Atrial fibrillation patients who use the drug, warfarin, to prevent harmful blood clots from forming in their hearts to lower risk of stroke are at higher risk of developing dementia than patients who use warfarin for non-atrial fibrillation conditions, according to a new study from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm that raises the risk of small clots forming in the heart and leading to a stroke. Warfarin is the most common anticoagulant drug used worldwide to lower risk of the harmful clots from forming and causing stroke.

For the study, Intermountain researchers looked at more than 6,000 patients who had no history of dementia and were chronically anticoagulated using warfarin for any indication -- not just atrial fibrillation. The patients were then divided into two groups: Those with atrial fibrillation who were using warfarin, and those using warfarin who did not have atrial fibrillation.

After adjusting for multiple variations, patients with atrial fibrillation were two to three times more likely to develop dementia compared to the patients who were on warfarin, but did not have a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation.

"Atrial fibrillation patients are at higher risk of developing all forms of dementia compared to patients without atrial fibrillation. Warfarin is used to lower risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation, but when the blood levels of the drug are erratic it contributes to the dementia risk. This dementia risk is observed in people with and without atrial fibrillation that are exposed to long-term warfarin treatment" said Jared Bunch, MD, lead author of the study and director of electrophysiology at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City.

"Even when we consider the influence of warfarin on dementia risk, the presence of atrial fibrillation conveys additional risk of dementia. This suggests that they way we manage the abnormal heart rhythm, beyond just the practice of preventing blood clots through warfarin, may be a way we can further lower the risk of all forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease, in patients with atrial fibrillation," Dr. Bunch added.

Results of the study will be presented during the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in New Orleans on Tuesday, November 15, at 1:30 pm, CT.

Seven years ago, researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that patients with atrial fibrillation had much higher rates of all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. Since then, researchers have continued to explore the association between atrial fibrillation and dementia in an effort to better understand and identify ways to prevent dementia in heart patients.

"Further research is needed to identify the many complex mechanisms that link atrial fibrillation to dementia," said Dr. Bunch. "We are initiating a series of new studies that are aimed to understand what treatments may reduce the risk of developing dementia in atrial fibrillation patients."
-end-
Other members of the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute team include Kevin Graves, BS; Heidi T. May, PhD; Tami L. Bair, RN; Victoria Jacobs, PhD; Brian G. Crandall, MD; Michael Cutler, MD; Jeffrey S. Osborn, MD; Charles Mallender, MD; John D. Day, MD; and Peter Weiss, MD.

The Intermountain Medical Center is the flagship facility for the Intermountain Healthcare system, which is based in Salt Lake City.

Intermountain Medical Center

Related Dementia Articles:

Flies the key to studying the causes of dementia
A research team from the University of Plymouth, University of Southampton and the Alexander Fleming Biomedical Sciences Research Center, Vari, Greece, have studied two structurally-similar proteins in the adult brain and have found that they play distinct roles in the development of dementia.
Stroke prevention may also reduce dementia
Ontario's stroke prevention strategy appears to have had an unexpected, beneficial side effect: a reduction also in the incidence of dementia among older seniors.
Dementia: The right to rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is important for people with dementia as it is for people with physical disabilities, according to a leading dementia expert.
One in 4 elderly Australian women have dementia
At least a quarter of Australian women over 70 will develop dementia according to University of Queensland researchers.
Rural dementia -- we need to talk
Research carried out by Plymouth University into the experience of dementia in farming and farming families, and its impact on their businesses and home lives, has identified four areas of concern which need to be addressed if dementia in the countryside is to be managed.
Women with dementia receive less medical attention
Women with dementia have fewer visits to the GP, receive less health monitoring and take more potentially harmful medication than men with dementia, new UCL research reveals.
Dementia on the downslide, especially among people with more education
In a hopeful sign for the health of the nation's brains, the percentage of American seniors with dementia is dropping, a new study finds.
New study suggests rethink of dementia causes
University of Adelaide researchers have developed a new theory for the causes of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, involving an out-of-control immune system.
Bleeding stroke associated with onset of dementia
Bleeding within the brain, or intracerebral hemorrhage, was associated with a high risk of developing dementia post stroke, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2016.
Dementia: New insights into causes of loss of orientation
The University of Exeter Medical School led two studies, each of which moves us a step closer to understanding the onset of dementia, and potentially to paving the way for future therapies.

Related Dementia Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".