Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with an increased risk of dementia. Little is known about the relationship of antithrombotic therapy and the risk of dementia in patients with AF without clinical stroke.
This was an observational study based on a hospital AF registry. Patients aged 65-85 years at the time of AF diagnosis were identified via the computerised database of the clinical management system. Patients with prior stroke or known cognitive dysfunction were excluded. The primary outcome was newly diagnosed dementia during the follow-up period.
3284 patients (mean age 76.4±5.3 years, 51.6% male) were included for analysis. The mean CHADS-VASc score was 3.94±1.44. 18.5% patients were prescribed warfarin, 39.8% were prescribed aspirin and 41.7% were prescribed no antithrombotic therapy. After a mean follow-up of 3.6 years, 71 patients (2.2%) developed dementia, giving rise to an incidence of 0.61%/year. The incidence of dementia were 1.04%/year, 0.69%/year and 0.14%/year for patients on no therapy, aspirin and warfarin, respectively. Both univariate and multivariate analyses showed that age ≥75 years, female gender and high CHADS-VASc score were associated with significantly higher risk of dementia; warfarin use was associated with significantly lower risk of dementia (HR: 0.14%, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.36, p<0.001). Patients on warfarin with time in therapeutic range (TTR) ≥65% had a non-significant trend towards a lower risk of dementia compared with those with TTR <65%.
In elderly AF patients, warfarin therapy was associated with a significantly lower risk of new-onset dementia compared those with no therapy or aspirin.

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.