Atrial fibrillation was identified by hospital discharge diagnosis codes and annual study ECGs. The main outcome was rate of decline in mean scores on the 100-point Modified Mini-Mental State Examination administered annually up to nine times. Of 5,150 participants who qualified for the analysis, 552 (10.7 percent) developed atrial fibrillation during seven years of follow-up. The authors hypothesized that embolic infarcts might be the cause of their findings, even though they excluded participants who experienced a stroke during the study. Cerebral hypoperfusion was also considered a possible etiology.
Read more about the causes of cognitive decline in elderly patients in Essentials of Geriatric Psychiatry, Second Edition, available from American Psychiatric Publishing here.