HealthDay News — Incident atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with increased dementia risk in elderly populations, according to a study published online June 18 in the European Heart Journal.

Dongmin Kim, MD, from the Dankook University College of Medicine in Yongin, South Korea, and colleagues examined the correlation between incident AF and the development of incident dementia from 2005 to 2012 in 262,611 dementia- and stroke-free participants aged ≥60 years in the Korea National Health Insurance Service-Senior cohort.

During an observational period of 1,629,903 person-years, incident AF was observed in 10,435 participants. The researchers found that the incidence of dementia was 4.1 and 2.7 per 100 person-years in the incident AF and propensity-score matched AF-free groups, respectively. The risk for dementia was significantly increased in the incident AF group after adjustment, with a hazard ratio of 1.52, even after censoring for stroke (hazard ratio, 1.27). Incident AF correlated with a significantly increased risk for Alzheimer and vascular dementia (hazard ratios, 1.31 and 2.11, respectively). Oral anticoagulant use correlated with a preventive effect on dementia development among patients with incident AF (hazard ratio, 0.61); an increasing CHA2DS2-VASc score correlated with increased dementia risk.

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“Our study suggests that the strong link between atrial fibrillation and dementia could be weakened if patients took oral anticoagulants,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Therefore, doctors should think carefully and be readier to prescribe anticoagulants for atrial fibrillation patients to try to prevent dementia.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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