AF and Memory Decline

Atrial fibrillation (AF) diagnosis was associated with a 45% increased risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among a cohort of 4.3 million individuals in the UK, according to a new study published in JACC: Advances. These findings suggest that cardiovascular risk factors and multiple comorbidities could further the progression from MCI to dementia in this cohort.

MCI is an early stage of cognitive function decline. In some cases it can be reversed, but it can indicate development of early dementia-associated disease. There has not been sufficient research on the development of MCI in AF patients and the subsequent development of dementia, so the authors of this study sought to investigate the association between MCI and AF diagnosis in the UK.

“Our study showed that AF was associated with a 45% increase in the risk of MCI, and that cardiovascular risk factors and multi-comorbidity appear to associate with this outcome,” said Rui Providencia, MD, PhD, Full Professor at the Institute of Health informatics Research at University College London and the study’s senior author.

Patients with AF who were treated with digoxin did not experience an increased MCI risk. The risk of MCI was higher in patients with AF who did not receive oral anticoagulant treatment and amiodarone treatment. Similarly, patients with AF who received oral anticoagulant treatment and amiodarone treatment were not at risk of MCI.

The researchers said these findings suggest that integrated AF care, such as combining anticoagulation and comorbidity-management, could help prevent cognitive deterioration and the progression to dementia. A confirmatory clinical trial is needed to explore this topic further.


Sheng-Chia Chung, Martin Rossor, Ana Torralbo, Cai Ytsma, Natalie K. Fitzpatrick, Spiros Denaxas, Rui Providencia. Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Atrial Fibrillation. JACC: Advances, 2023; 100655 DOI: 10.1016/j.jacadv.2023.100655

American College of Cardiology. (2023, October 25). New atrial fibrillation diagnosis may increase risk of memory decline. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 27, 2023 from

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