Published on: November 17, 2014
Long-term over-treatment with anti-clotting drug raises risk of dementia in people with irregular heartbeat, according to a new study.
Atrial fibrillation causes the upper chambers of the heart to contract quickly and irregularly. These abnormal contractions allow blood to pool in the heart, forming clots that can cause a stroke if they break off and are carried into the brain.
Plavix and Warfarin, along with aspirin, are some of the most commonly used medications for atrial fibrillation. According to Dr. Thomas Jared Bunch, lead researcher, director of electrophysiology at the Intermountain Heart Institute in Murray, Utah, warfarin in some people is a challenging medication to use with levels that often fluctuate between over- and under-anti-clotting.
He further added that this effect is particularly pronounced in patients who need more than one anti-clotting drug.
Bunch said in those patients on warfarin where tight control is not possible, newer drugs that have more predictable effects on the body might be preferable.
The findings of the study were to be presented at American Heart Association annual meeting in Chicago. Research presented at meetings is viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Bunch and colleagues examined 1,000 patients with no history of dementia or stroke. Over 10 years of follow-up, it was found that patients taking a combination of drugs who had abnormally slow clotting times 25 percent or more of the time were more than twice as likely to develop dementia as patients whose clotting time remained in normal ranges more than 90 percent of the time.
Bunch explained that patients who had abnormally slow clotting times were receiving too much medication. The increased risk was higher than what was found in a study of warfarin alone, Bunch added.
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