Neuropsychological deficits in asymptomatic atrial fibrillation

E. Farina, E. Magni, F. Ambrosini, R. Manfredini, A. Binda, C. Sina, C. Mariani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective - To assess the preclinical effects on cognitive functions of nonrheumatic atrial fibrillation (NRAF) in patients with negative history for cerebrovascular disease. Materials and methods - The study included 37 consecutive patients with chronic (n=16, mean age 65.3 ± 6.6 years) or paroxysmal (n=21, mean age 58.3 ± 9.5 years) NRAF and an equal number of control subjects in sinus rhythm, who were matched for age, education and presence of hypertension. A comprehensive neuropsychological battery including tests of attention, memory, language and visuospatial skills was administered. Results - Patients with chronic NRAF showed significantly poorer performances in tasks exploring attention and verbal memory functions, while the paroxysmal group was significantly impaired in a long-term memory task. The neuropsychological findings were confirmed excluding from both groups patients with CT evidence of cerebrovascular damage. A small subgroup of patients was also submitted to cerebral MRI. Conclusion - Neurologically asymptomatic NRAF is related to a subclinical but significant impairment in attention and memory. These deficits could be produced by minor ischemic lesions due to microembolization, or by diffuse hypoxic damage due to hypoperfusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-316
Number of pages7
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Neuropsychological tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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