Atrial fibrillation, antithrombotic treatment, and cognitive aging: A population-based study

Mozhu Ding, Laura Fratiglioni, Kristina Johnell, Giola Santoni, Johan Fastbom, Petter Ljungman, Alessandra Marengoni, Chengxuan Qiu
Neurology 2018 November 6, 91 (19): e1732-e1740

OBJECTIVE: To examine the association of atrial fibrillation (AF) with cognitive decline and dementia in old age, and to explore the cognitive benefit of antithrombotic treatment in patients with AF.

METHODS: This population-based cohort study included 2,685 dementia-free participants from the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen, who were regularly examined from 2001-2004 to 2010-2013. AF was ascertained from clinical examination, ECG, and patient registry. Global cognitive function was assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination. We followed the DSM-IV criteria for the diagnosis of dementia, the NINDS-AIREN (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and Association Internationale pour la Recherché et l'Enseignement en Neurosciences) criteria for vascular dementia, and the NINCDS-ADRDA (National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association) criteria for Alzheimer disease. Data were analyzed using multiple linear mixed-effects and Cox regression models.

RESULTS: We identified 243 participants (9.1%) with AF at baseline. During the 9-year follow-up period, 279 participants (11.4%) developed AF and 399 (14.9%) developed dementia. As a time-varying variable, AF was significantly associated with a faster annual Mini-Mental State Examination decline (β coefficient = -0.24, 95% confidence interval [CI]: -0.31 to -0.16) and an increased hazard ratio (HR) of all-cause dementia (HR = 1.40, 95% CI: 1.11-1.77) and vascular and mixed dementia (HR = 1.88, 95% CI: 1.09-3.23), but not Alzheimer disease (HR = 1.33, 95% CI: 0.92-1.94). Among people with either prevalent or incident AF, use of anticoagulant drugs, but not antiplatelet treatment, was associated with a 60% decreased risk of dementia (HR = 0.40, 95% CI: 0.18-0.92).

CONCLUSION: AF is associated with a faster global cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia in older people. Use of anticoagulant drugs may reduce dementia risk in patients with AF.


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