Friday, June 7, 2013

Researchers LInk Atrial Fibrillation to Cognitive Impairment

Reporting online in the June 5 Neurology, researchers at the University of Washington’s Cardiovascular Health Research Unit have determined that people with atrial fibrillation are likely to develop cognitive impairment or dementia at earlier ages than people without atrial fibrillation. They made that determination through a longitudinal analysis in the Cardiovascular Health Study, a community-based study of 5,888 men and women aged 65 and older, enrolled in 1989/90 or 1992/93. None of the participants had atrial fibrillation or a history of stroke at baseline.

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

(Image: sfam_photo/


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