Swedish researchers have discovered that anticoagulant treatment for atrial fibrillation is associated with a 29% lower risk of dementia.
“The risk of dementia is higher without oral anticoagulant treatment in patients with AF. This suggests that early initiation of anticoagulant treatment in patients with AF could be of value in order to preserve cognitive function”.
There was apparently no difference between use of NOACs and warfarin.
Full Text Link (Note: This article may be available freely for a limited time. It normally requires a suitable Athens password, a journal subscription or payment for access).
Friberg, L. [and] Rosenqvist, M. (2017). Less dementia with oral anticoagulation in atrial fibrillation. European Heart Journal. October 24th 2017, ehx579. [Epub ahead of print].
The following NHS Choices Behind the Headlines critical appraisal offers more light on the subject:
Blood-thinning drugs may reduce dementia risk in people with irregular heartbeats. London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, October 25th 2017.
October 2018 Update
A Swedish study appears to confirm that while atrial fibrillation is associated with faster cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia in older people, the use of anticoagulant drugs (but not antiplatelets) may help reduce dementia risk.
Ding, M. Fratiglioni, L. [and] Johnell, K. [et al]. (2018). Atrial fibrillation, antithrombotic treatment, and cognitive aging: a population-based study. Neurology. October 10th 2018. [Epub ahead of print].
May 2019 Update: Lower Dementia and Stroke Risk
Friberg, L. Andersson, T. Rosenqvist, M. (2019). Less dementia and stroke in low-risk patients with atrial fibrillation taking oralanticoagulation. European Heart Journal. May 16th 2019. [Epub ahead of print].