(HealthDay News) – Patients with atrial fibrillation are at an increased risk for both cognitive and functional decline, regardless of whether they have a stroke, according to research published online Feb. 27 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

To investigate whether atrial fibrillation is associated with cognitive and physical impairment, Irene Marzona, PharmD, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and colleagues conducted a post-hoc analysis of data from 31,506 patients at high cardiovascular disease risk, with complete information on atrial fibrillation, who had been treated with either telmisartan plus ramipril or telmisartan alone. Cognitive impairment was measured after two and five years using the Mini-Mental State Examination.

The researchers found that 3.3% of participants had atrial fibrillation at baseline, and an additional 6.5% developed it after a median follow-up period of 56 months. Atrial fibrillation correlated with a significant increase in the risk of cognitive decline, new dementia, loss of independence in performing the activities of daily living, and in the risk of admission to a long-term care facility (hazard ratios, 1.14, 1.30, 1.35, and 1.53, respectively). These findings were similar for those with or without stroke, and for those who received antihypertensive drugs.

“Among patients with atrial fibrillation, we saw high rates of cognitive and functional decline and admission to long-term care facilities during the five-year follow-up,” the authors write.

One of the authors disclosed financial ties to Boehringer-Ingelheim.

Full Text