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Atrial Fibrillation Drug Warfarin Puts Patients At Greater Risk For Dementia

Update Date: May 06, 2016 06:03 AM EDT

A new study has scrutinized the drug known as Warfarin in increasing the probability of dementia especially in old people with atrial fibrillation. Warfarin is a blood-thinning drug and has been discovered courtesy of a new study to deceitfully aid in promoting dementia, according to Medical News Today.

In the study of more than 10,000 patients with different diseases who were receiving warfarin therapy to prevent clots and stroke, those who had atrial fibrillation (AF) as opposed to thromboembolism or a mechanical heart valve were more likely to develop dementia including Alzheimer's disease, during about a 7-year follow-up. A total of 2.8% of patients with AF vs 0.9% of the other patients developed Alzheimer's disease.

Warfarin has been used to prevent potentially life-threatening blood clots for more than half a century; an estimated 20 million Americans are currently taking the drug. Atrial fibrillation (AF) refers to an irregular, often abnormally fast, heartbeat. It can cause a range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, dizziness, and tiredness.

"First, as physicians we have to understand that although we need to use anticoagulants for many reasons including to prevent stroke in AF patients, at that same time there are risks that need to be considered some of which we are only right now beginning to understand. In this regard, only those that absolutely need blood thinners should be placed on them long-term."

"Second, other medications like aspirin that may increase the blood thinners effect should be avoided unless there is a specific medical need. Finally, in people that are on Warfarin in which the levels are erratic or difficult to control, switching to newer agents that are more predictable may lower risk."

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