JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Cognitive impairment as determinant for sub-optimal control of oral anticoagulation treatment in elderly patients with atrial fibrillation

Bob A J van Deelen, Patricia M L A van den Bemt, Toine C G Egberts, Annelies van 't Hoff, Huub A A M Maas
Drugs & Aging 2005, 22 (4): 353-60
15839723

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Atrial fibrillation is an indication for oral anticoagulation treatment. Maintaining the International Normalized Ratio (INR) within the therapeutic range minimises thromboembolic and bleeding complications. We have investigated whether cognitive capacity affects control of anticoagulation in elderly patients with atrial fibrillation.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A retrospective study was conducted to investigate the association between cognitive impairment and control of anticoagulation. Patients > or =70 years of age with atrial fibrillation using acenocoumarol (nicoumalone) as anticoagulant were included. All patients were monitored by the Anticoagulation Clinic in the Midden-Brabant region in the Netherlands. The cognitive function of all patients was assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) on the index date. INR values were obtained from the year preceding the index date. Patients with an MMSE score <23 were defined as cognitively impaired. The primary outcome of the study was the incidence of an INR value within the therapeutic range of 2.0-3.4 during < or =70% of treatment time in the year prior to the cognitive function assessment. The secondary endpoint was the number of patients with an INR <2.0 or > or =6.0 at least once during this year. Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the association between cognitive function and control of anticoagulation.

RESULTS: A total of 152 patients were included in the study. An MMSE score <23 was associated with an inadequate INR control (odds ratio [OR] 2.77; 95% CI 1.13, 6.74). After correction for hospital admission and change of possibly interacting medication (both also associated with inadequate INR control), this association remained statistically significant. Significantly more patients with an MMSE score <23 had one or more INR values of six or higher (OR 3.06; 95% CI 1.14, 8.18).

CONCLUSION: In elderly people with atrial fibrillation using oral anticoagulation, an MMSE score <23 is independently associated with an inadequate INR control, mainly because of an increased number of supratherapeutic INR values. This finding should be taken into account when making decisions about use of oral anticoagulants in the elderly.

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