Research finds blood-thinning drugs may reduce dementia risk, Alzheimer's Society comments

New research published today suggests that blood-thinning drugs may be associated with reduction in dementia risk, as well as reducing the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).

The study, which is the largest ever to examine the link between anticoagulant treatment and dementia in AF patients, looked at data from Swedish registries for patients between 2006 and 2014. 

Researchers found that those taking drugs to prevent blood clots at the start of the study had a 29% lower risk of developing dementia than patients who were not on anticoagulant treatment. When researchers monitored the effect over a period of time, they found that patients who continued to take the drugs had a 48% reduction in risk of dementia.

James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society says:

'We know that what is good for your heart is good for your head. Because of this, many research studies are examining the benefits of treating problems with the blood and heart as a way to potentially prevent or slow down cognitive decline, including some funded by Alzheimer’s Society

'This large study suggests that anticoagulant drugs could reduce dementia risk in people with atrial fibrillation, but it cannot prove cause and effect. For instance, people that seek treatment for medical conditions may be generally healthier than those that don’t or other reasons might be at play. 

'If you have atrial fibrillation, make sure you have regular conversations with your doctor about the best treatment options for you. Taking good care of your heart in general is thought to be one of the best things to do to do reduce your risk of dementia. You can do this by keeping blood pressure in check, eating a healthy, balanced diet an taking regular physical exercise.'

Read more about dementia risk factors and prevention.