Widely-used heart drug linked to increased dementia risk

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Widely Used Heart Drug Linked to Increased Dementia Risk

Researchers have linked a widely used heart drug to increased risk of dementia.

Warfarin is a blood thinner used in the treatment of atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that affects millions of people in the U.S.

Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute tracked more than 10,000 patients who took Warfarin long-term, both for atrial fibrillation and for other conditions.

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The researchers found that patients with atrial fibrillation experienced higher rates of dementia and Alzheimer's.

Within eight years, close to 6 percent of patients taking Warfarin for atrial fibrillation developed dementia, compared to less than 2 percent of those taking Warfarin for other reasons.

This is the first study to detail the dementia risks of Warfarin. Doctors warn the connections between blood thinners, atrial fibrillation and dementia are still not clearly understood.

The study's lead author says because doctors are only now learning about the risks, "only those that absolutely need blood thinners should be placed on them long-term."

RELATED: Nursing homes using sensory cues to help dementia patients:

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Widely-used heart drug linked to increased dementia risk
Olga Deacon, who has dementia, speaks with her granddaughter, Chris Boyce, in a replica 1940s kitchen, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Olga Deacon, who has dementia, recalls to her granddaughter, Chris Boyce, that her brothers fought in World War II in front of a memory wall, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A calendar from 1942 is posted in a replica kitchen Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Decima Assise, who has Alzheimer's disease, and Harry Lomping dance to old music in a replica mid 1900s living room Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Decima Assise, who has Alzheimer's disease, and Harry Lomping dance to old music in a replica mid 1900's living room Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A 1940s era replica kitchen is shown on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Vintage containers of food are displayed in a 1940s replica kitchen Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A vintage camera is display in a replica mid 1900s living room Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Olga Deacon, who has dementia, speaks with her granddaughter, Chris Boyce, about past travels in front of a memory wall, left, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
The Easton Home is seen on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Decima Assise, who has Alzheimer's disease, and Harry Lomping walk the halls, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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