Our Firm is investigating the potential link between blood thinning drugs and dementia. Recent findings suggest that the long-term use of anti-clotting/antiplatelet drug combinations can increase the risk of dementia. Parker Waichman has years of experience handling cases involving dangerous and defective drugs. If you or someone you know suffered dementia or other complications that you suspect is caused by blood thinners, contact our firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Researchers Find Higher Risk of Dementia in Combination Regimen of Blood Thinners
Research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014 showed that when the anti-clotting drug warfarin is combined with anti-platelet drugs aspirin or clopidogrel (sold under the brand name Plavix), there may be an elevated risk of dementia. According to Medical Xpress, this risk applied to patients with atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm. Atrial fibrillation is known to increase the risk of stroke and all common forms of dementia. Currently, the mechanism behind atrial fibrillation’s association with dementia is unclear.
The study was led by T. Jared Bunch, M.D., who is the director of electrophysiology at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah. “The dual drug regimen is often used to prevent strokes in people with coronary artery disease or peripheral vascular disease, but we have to consider that long-term exposure to anti-clotting drugs such as warfarin, if not well controlled, can significantly increase bleeding risk,” said Dr. Bunch, according to Medical Xpress. “This may result in micro bleeds in the brain that don’t cause symptoms right away, but accumulate over time raising the risk of dementia.”
Bunch and his colleagues gathered data on 1,031 patients who did not have any history of stroke or dementia for up to 10 years while taking the drug combination. They found that patients were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia if they had abnormally slow blood clotting times, measured as having an International Normalized Ration (INR) of greater than 3, on 25 percent or more of their monitoring tests compared to patients whose tests showed overtreatment less than 10 percent of the time. Researchers interpreted abnormally slow clotting times as a sign of being over-medicated.
Percent In This Study Is Higher
The percent seen in this study is higher than the findings of a previous studying looking at warfarin alone. According to Medical Xpress, prior research showed an increased risk of dementia among warfarin patients whose clotting times were too slow or too fast. Abnormally slow clotting times leads to a higher risk of bleeding while fast clotting times increases the risk of blood clots. These findings prompted researchers to conclude that dementia among atrial fibrillation patients is influenced by small bleeds and clots.
“Even at skilled centers, it’s very common to have INR outside the ideal range up to 40 percent of the time, and over the years there may be an accumulative negative impact on cognitive ability,” Bunch stated. “If your INRs are consistently too high, for stroke prevention your doctor may want to consider switching you to one of the newer anti-clotting drugs that is easier to regulate or a device placed into the heart that prevents clots from forming or exiting the area in the heart chamber where most clots develop in people with atrial fibrillation,”