Are You On Blood Thinners? If So, You May Significantly Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

I’m lucky to have both of my mom’s parents in my life. My grandpa is 90 years old, and even after a stroke, he’s doing pretty darn well.

Sure, he has his list of medications and associated health concerns, but at the age of 90, he still helps me put our family sailboat in the water each summer, has a thriving vegetable garden, and not only shovels his driveway — but his neighbors as well.

Since I have been alive, my grandpa has been on blood thinners. It was only when he stopped taking them for a routine test that he had his stroke, but that’s a story for another day.

I’ve always associated blood thinners with my grandpa, and if you too are taking blood-thinning drugs, you may be protected against dementia. In fact, according to an article written by The Guardian, those taking blood thinners may reduce their risk of dementia by up to 48 percent.

Anticoagulants May Have Protective Effects

We are often concerned with the long list of side effects that medications bring, but in many cases, without these medications, patients would not have the quality of life they currently live.

As mentioned, it was only when my grandpa was foolishly taken off his blood-thinners that he experienced a major stroke. In many ways, he has since recovered — but to this day, there was no denying the connection.

Based on a recent study, researchers found that patients who were being treated for atrial fibrillation, were less likely to suffer from dementia based on their intake of anticoagulants. In fact, when compared with others who were living with the same condition (but were not prescribed blood thinners), these patients reduced their risk by up to 48 percent.

Isn’t that incredible?

This wasn’t a small study either, which makes the results more impressive.

After analyzing the health data of more than 444,000 Swedish atrial fibrillation patients, the researchers were confident in a possible connection. Although there isn’t a definitive cause and effect here, their research ‘strongly suggested’ that anticoagulants offer a protective benefit against dementia among patients with this condition.

Of the medications prescribed, blood thinners included warfarin, dabigatran, edoxaban, apixaban, and rivaroxaban. It was also found that the earlier treatment started after a diagnosis was reached, the greater the protective effect.

If you’re wondering what the connection is, it all relates back to the heart-brain link.

Why You Need to Keep Your Heart Healthy

For the patients studied above, it was clear that after their diagnosis, they were at a disadvantage in regards to cardiovascular health. Being prescribed blood thinners, allowed them to combat the potential risk factors that lead to a stroke — and in many cases, dementia later in life.

I have addressed the connection between heart and brain health before, but I want to take a moment to remind you that these organs are not independent of one another.

As stated in Scientific American, “A Healthy Brain Requires a Healthy Heart.” This is also why so much dementia research has circulated around factors such as smoking and exercise — they both affect the heart and in turn, the brain. It was also reported that individuals who have control over their blood pressure from the age of 65 to 80, are also less likely to develop dementia.

This makes sense, as our brain is extremely sensitive to changes in blood and oxygen supply.

From high cholesterol to diabetes, there is no denying that our cardiovascular system plays a key role in regards to neural health. That is why if you’re at risk for heart disease, it’s important to reevaluate your current lifestyle.

Although you may be predisposed based on genetics, optimal physical and mental exercise, as well as a nutrient-rich diet can have a significant effect on your future health.

So, what can you do today to protect yourself against dementia?

  • Reduce strain on your heart, as unhealthy behaviors can narrow and harden your arteries. If you are currently overweight, there is no time like the present to shake up your current routine. Start by walking 15 minutes every day — then next week, walk for 30 minutes. It’s all about making small changes that result in a BIG impact.

  • Be open with your healthcare provider, especially if you’ve experienced any abnormal symptoms. For those like my grandpa, for instance, starting him on blood thinners early, is likely what has kept him alive to this day.

  • Quit eating heavily processed and high-sugar foods — they’re wrecking havoc on your health, trust me. There are plenty of easy, healthy meals for you to try. Here are 50 brain-food recipes to get you started.

As you change your lifestyle, you’ll find that you have more energy to do the things you love. It’s all about taking control of your life, long before you feel as though you ‘have’ to. Don’t wait for symptoms to develop before you take action.

On that note, I’ll leave you with this quote to think about, “Invest in your health today — or your sickness tomorrow.”

Which would you prefer?

Take a proactive approach, beginning today!

Krista Hillis has a B.A.Sc degree, specializing in neuroscience and psychology. She is actively involved in the mental health and caregiving community, aiming to help others. Krista is also passionate about nutrition and the ways in which lifestyle choices affect and influence the human brain.

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