Can Statin Medication Lower the Risk of Dementia? It May Be So in Patients with AFIB

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart rhythm disorder that is linked to an increased risk of dementia, even in stroke-free patients. Many patients with atrial fibrillation take daily oral anticoagulant (OAC) medications like warfarin or direct-acting oral agents like Xarelto. Even with OAC medications, dementia is a risk. 

The impact of statin therapy on dementia risk is unclear in AF patients receiving OAC medications. A new study sought to investigate the impact of statin therapy on dementia risk in AF patients receiving OAC.

STUDY: Using the Korean National Health Insurance Service database, 91, 018 non-valvular AF (NVAF) patients from January 2013 to December 2017 were included in the analysis.

Of the total, 17 700 patients (19.4%) were in the statin therapy group, and 73 318 patients (80.6%) were in the non-statin therapy group. The primary endpoint was the occurrence of dementia. The median duration of follow-up was 2.1 years.

Statin therapy was associated with a significantly lower dementia risk of about 23% compared with non-statin therapy patients (with a stroke risk score called CHA2DS2-VASc of ≥ 2).

The statin therapy group had a significantly lower dementia risk in a dose-dependent relationship compared with the non-statin therapy group.

CONCLUSIONS: 

In NVAF patients who received OAC, statin therapy lowered the dementia risk compared with no statin therapy. Furthermore, statin therapy is associated with a dose-dependent reduction in dementia risk. 

NVAF is a very common and potentially serious heart rhythm disorder that can increase the risk of both stroke and dementia. The use of statins is promising in this group, particularly if at increased stroke risk, even while on OAC medications. 

Author
Dr. Joel Kahn

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