Atrial fibrillation and cognitive decline in the Framingham Heart Study

Arvind Nishtala, Ryan J Piers, Jayandra J Himali, Alexa S Beiser, Kendra L Davis-Plourde, Jane S Saczynski, David D McManus, Emelia J Benjamin, Rhoda Au
Heart Rhythm: the Official Journal of the Heart Rhythm Society 2018, 15 (2): 166-172

BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of longitudinal research investigating the relations between atrial fibrillation (AF) and domain-specific cognitive performance.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between AF and cognitive performance cross-sectionally and longitudinally.

METHODS: Eligible participants were dementia- and stroke-free at the time of baseline neuropsychological (NP) assessment and underwent at least 1 additional NP assessment with at least 1-year inter-test interval. AF status was examined as a 2-level variable (prevalent AF, no AF) in cross-sectional analyses and then separately as a 3-level variable (prevalent AF, interim AF, no AF) in longitudinal analyses. We examined the association between AF status and cognitive performance with linear regression. We first adjusted models for age and sex and then for vascular risk factors and apolipoprotein ε4 (APOE4) status.

RESULTS: We studied 2682 participants of the Framingham Heart Study original and offspring cohorts. At the baseline NP assessment, 112 participants (4%) had AF (mean age 72 ± 9 years; 32% women). After adjustment for vascular risk factors and APOE4 status, prevalent AF was significantly associated with poorer attention; sex differences were also noted with men performing worse on tests of abstract reasoning and executive function, while women did better on a measure of executive function. Prevalent AF was significantly associated with longitudinal decline in executive function in the original cohort, and interim AF was significantly associated with longitudinal decline in executive function in the offspring cohort.

CONCLUSION: After accounting for vascular risk factor burden and APOE4 status, AF was associated with a vascular profile of change in cognitive function.


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