HealthDay News — Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with a faster global cognitive decline and an increased risk for dementia in older people, though anticoagulants may reduce dementia risk in AF patients, according to a study published online Oct. 10 in Neurology.

Mozhu Ding, from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and colleagues assessed the association of AF with cognitive decline and dementia in old age among 2,685 participants in the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen who were dementia-free at baseline and regularly examined from 2001-2004 to 2010-2013.

The researchers found that 9.1 percent of participants had AF at baseline. During the nine years of follow-up, 11.4 percent of participants developed AF and 14.9 percent developed dementia. AF was significantly associated with a faster annual Mini-Mental State Examination decline (β coefficient, −0.24; 95 percent confidence interval, −0.31 to −0.16), as well as an increased risk for all-cause dementia (hazard ratio, 1.4; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.11 to 1.77) and vascular and mixed dementia (HR, 1.88; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.09 to 3.23). However, AF was not associated with Alzheimer disease (HR, 1.33; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.92 to 1.94). Among people with AF, use of anticoagulant treatment was associated with a decreased risk for dementia (HR, 0.4; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.18 to 0.92).

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“Compromised blood flow caused by AF may affect the brain in a number of ways,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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