Global cognitive performance at 4-year follow-up in individuals with atrial fibrillation-findings from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

Age and ageing

Age Ageing. 2021 Nov 10;50(6):2192-2198. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afab141.


INTRODUCTION: Atrial fibrillation (AF) has been proposed as a risk factor for cognitive impairment, even in the absence of a history of stroke. This study investigates whether AF is associated with increased risk of cognitive decline in a community-dwelling population of adults over the age of 50.

METHODS: Data from the 1st and 3rd waves of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) were used (4-year follow-up period). TILDA is a large prospective cohort study of community-dwelling adults over the age of 50 in Ireland. AF was assessed via electrocardiogram. Global cognitive function was assessed at baseline and follow-up using Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA). Analysis of global cognition was repeated stratifying by age. Mixed-effects Poisson regression was used to assess for change in rate of errors on MOCA and MOCA subdomains.

RESULTS: A total of 3,417 participants were included in the study. Results found that participants with AF had a greater increase in rate of errors on MOCA over 4-year follow-up (incident rate ratio (IRR) 1.18; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02, 1.37; P-value 0.023). However, this was no longer significant on controlling for age, sex and level of education (IRR 1.08; 95% CI 0.93, 1.25; P-value 0.332). There was no difference when stratifying by age group, or when separating MOCA into subdomains.

CONCLUSION: Individuals with AF were more likely to show an increase in rate of errors between waves 1 and 3 (4-year follow-up period) in the TILDA population; however, results were not significant when controlling for age, sex and level of education.

PMID:34293085 | DOI:10.1093/ageing/afab141


Triona McNicholas
Katy Tobin
Susan O'Callaghan
Rose Anne Kenny