For patients at an increased risk of stroke from blood clots, typically after surgery, or conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or atrial fibrillation (AFib), blood thinners are a common treatment. However, a new study from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute discovered that AFib patients taking anticoagulants seem to be at an increased risk of developing dementia.
What is AFib?
Atrial fibrillation, commonly called AFib, is an irregular heartbeat that can impede blood flow. The heartbeat can become either too slow or too fast when the upper chambers of the heart beat is out of sync with the lower chambers. The poor blood flow puts patients at risk for life-threatening complications such as stroke. Symptoms of AFib are palpitations (racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat), weakness, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, and chest pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Patients with AFib take blood thinners or anticoagulants such as Xarelto, Pradaxa, or Coumadin, to regulate blood flow and to prevent a stroke.
New Study and Dementia Risk
Over 6,000 patients without a history of dementia were examined by researchers. All subjects were given blood thinners to treat a variety of medical conditions. The study revealed that patients taking blood thinners for AFib were two to three times more likely to develop dementia as compared to other patients. AFib patients were at the highest risk of developing dementia, however, blood thinners increased the risk on other subjects as well.
Other Risks Linked to Blood Thinners
Dementia is not the only danger linked to blood thinners. Since blood thinners hamper the blood’s clotting ability, patients taking anticoagulants may experience uncontrollable or excessive bleeding events. Some blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) have antidotes to reverse the anticoagulant effects. The newer blood thinner and one of the most popular anticoagulants, Xarelto does not as yet, have an available antidote.
Xarelto patients have reportedly suffered life-threatening and on occasion fatal bleeding events, with no effective way to reverse the medication’s effect. For patients who are weighing whether or not to take a blood thinner, as a result of the recent study, dementia must now be considered a dangerous side effect.
Personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are actively reviewing potential lawsuits on behalf of individuals who have been injured by defective drugs.
In the April 2015 issue of the British Medical Journal, it was revealed that research involving the different blood thinners were not able to rule out an increased risk of stomach bleeding that was at least two-fold greater for those individuals taking Xarelto, when compared to individuals taking warfarin.
Other Drugs Allegedly Linked to Dementia Risk
There has also been evidence of a link between regular proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) used in the treatment of heartburn and acid reflux, and an increased risk of dementia. Some popular PPIs are Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid. A study published in February in JAMA Neurology, using data from one of the largest German insurers, revealed a potential connection between PPI use and dementia, reports Medscape.
Researchers referenced data of 73,679 subjects 75 years of age and older, from 2004 to 2011. Regular PPI users were measured as individuals having at least one prescription for one of the drugs every four or five months over an 18-month period, and totaled 2,950 users. Findings showed that regular PPI use was connected to a 44 percent increased risk of dementia, according to Medscape.
New research reveals that a prostate cancer treatment may be connected to an increased risk of dementia. Researchers found that treatment involving androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is linked to a higher risk of dementia, reports a study published in JAMA Oncology. As many as 500,000 men with prostate cancer are given ADT and its use has significantly increased over the past few decades.
A study of some popular drugs, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs including hay fever medication, incontinence treatment, some sleeping pills, and anti-depressants may reduce brain size possibly leading to dementia or Alzheimer’s. The study was led by a team of scientists at Indiana University School of Medicine. They assessed 451 elderly subjects, 60 of whom were taking at least one medication with anticholinergic properties. Anticholinergics block the chemical which transfers electrical impulses between nerves, and are also found to lower metabolism, the Independent reports.
Legal Help for Anticoagulant Users
If you or someone you know suffered adverse side effects involving the use of anticoagulants, you may have valuable legal rights. The attorneys at Parker Waichman offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).