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Europace. 2018 Mar 1;20(3):408-419. doi: 10.1093/europace/eux031.

Does atrial fibrillation cause cognitive decline and dementia?

Dietzel J1, Haeusler KG1,2, Endres M1,2,3,4,5,6.

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Center for Stroke Research Berlin, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany.
Department of Neurology, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany.
German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK).
German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease (DZNE).
ExcellenceCluster NeuroCure, Charité- Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany.
Berlin Institute of Health, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) and dementia are both frequent diseases with substantial socioeconomic impact. While AF has been associated with cognitive dysfunction and dementia, we currently lack an exact understanding of the complex association between AF and cognitive decline. Based on an extended literature search we summarize key publications focusing on AF-related cognitive decline and dementia. Moreover, ongoing trials and potential therapeutic implications are discussed. While further prospective studies using a standardized definition of AF and cognitive decline are urgently needed, growing evidence supports the hypothesis that AF is an independent risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia in general and for Alzheimer's disease in particular. In addition to AF-related ischaemic stroke, white matter damage and systemic inflammation are candidate pathomechanisms and therefore a potential target for prevention of cognitive decline. Whether individualized best-medical therapy of AF holds the promise of preventing cognitive decline should be tested in randomized trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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