Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with an elevated risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Understanding the cognitive sequelae and brain structural changes associated with AF is vital for addressing ensuing health care needs.
We examined 1335 stroke-free individuals with AF and 2683 matched controls using neuropsychological assessments and multimodal neuroimaging. The analysis revealed that individuals with AF exhibited deficits in executive function, processing speed, and reasoning, accompanied by reduced cortical thickness, elevated extracellular free-water content, and widespread white matter abnormalities, indicative of small vessel pathology. Notably, brain structural differences statistically mediated the relationship between AF and cognitive performance.
Integrating a comprehensive analysis approach with extensive clinical and magnetic resonance imaging data, our study highlights small vessel pathology as a possible unifying link among AF, cognitive decline, and abnormal brain structure. These insights can inform diagnostic approaches and motivate the ongoing implementation of effective therapeutic strategies.

We investigated neuropsychological and multimodal neuroimaging data of 1335 individuals with atrial fibrillation (AF) and 2683 matched controls.
Our analysis revealed AF-associated deficits in cognitive domains of attention, executive function, processing speed, and reasoning.
Cognitive deficits in the AF group were accompanied by structural brain alterations including reduced cortical thickness and gray matter volume, alongside increased extracellular free-water content as well as widespread differences of white matter integrity.
Structural brain changes statistically mediated the link between AF and cognitive performance, emphasizing the potential of structural imaging markers as a diagnostic tool in AF-related cognitive decline.

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This post is Copyright: Marvin Petersen,
Céleste Chevalier,
Felix L. Naegele,
Thies Ingwersen,
Amir Omidvarnia,
Felix Hoffstaedter,
Kaustubh Patil,
Simon B. Eickhoff,
Renate B. Schnabel,
Paulus Kirchhof,
Eckhard Schlemm,
Bastian Cheng,
Götz Thomalla,
Märit Jensen | June 5, 2024

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