Dodging Dementia With Clot-Blocking Blood Thinners

Premier Health Now

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

People with atrial fibrillation (AFib) who are treated with blood thinners are less likely to develop dementia compared to AFib patients who don’t take blood thinners. This, according to results of a new study reported by The Guardian.

AFib, an irregular heartbeat, can lead to blood clots and strokes that can increase risk of dementia. By analyzing the health records of 444,106 AFib patients, researchers found that those treated with blood-thinning drugs had a significantly lower risk of developing dementia — up to 48 percent.

To learn more about the study and what it means, Premier Health Now spoke with Rajan Krishnamani, MD, with Miami Valley Cardiologists. “AFib can cause clots to form in the heart. Those clots can travel to the brain and cause stroke,” he explains. Strokes triggered by blood clots can be a cause of dementia. The study’s researchers believe by reducing the chance of clots, blood thinners may also lower the occurrence of stroke — and subsequently decrease the chance of dementia.

While the findings are revealing, Dr. Krishnamani cautions, “It’s important to note that this was not a randomized clinical trial, so the researchers cannot say with certainty that the use of blood thinners reduces the risk of dementia. But they were able to confirm an association between the two, and that is valuable information.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AFib increases a person’s risk for stroke by four to five times, and strokes caused by AFib tend to be more severe than strokes with other underlying causes.

The study found no difference in dementia prevention among the blood thinners that were a part of the research study, which included warfarin (Coumadin®), apixaban (Eliquis®), dabigatran (Pradaxa®), edoxaban (Savaysa®) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto®). The blood thinners’ protective effect was greater the earlier treatment began after a diagnosis of AFib, according to the researchers.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.