Send to

Choose Destination
Medicina (Kaunas). 2019 Nov 30;55(12). pii: E767. doi: 10.3390/medicina55120767.

The Role of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Comorbidities in the Link between Atrial Fibrillation and Cognitive Impairment: An Appraisal of Current Scientific Evidence.

Author information

Division of Cardiology, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, QC H3G1A4, Canada.
Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, QC H3A2B4, Canada.
Department of Cardiac, Thoracic, and Vascular Sciences, University of Padua, 35121 Padua, Italy.
Department of Medical Translational Sciences, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli"-Monaldi Hospital, 80131 Naples, Italy.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia encountered in clinical practice with implications on long-term outcomes. Metabolic disorders including diabetes mellitus and obesity are independent predictors of atrial fibrillation and present therapeutic targets to reduce both the incidence and duration burden of atrial fibrillation. The presence of pericardial fat in direct contact with cardiac structures, as well the subsequent release of proinflammatory cytokines, may play an important role in this connection. Atrial fibrillation is an independent predictor of cognitive impairment and dementia. While clinical stroke is a major contributor, other factors such as cerebral hypoperfusion and microbleeds play important roles. New evidence suggests that atrial fibrillation and cognitive impairment may be downstream events of atrial cardiomyopathy, which may be caused by several factors including metabolic syndrome, obesity, and obstructive sleep apnea. The mechanisms linking these comorbidities to cognitive impairment are not yet fully elucidated. A clearer understanding of the association of AF with dementia and cognitive impairment is imperative. Future studies should focus on the predictors of cognitive impairment among those with AF and aim to understand the potential mechanisms underlying these associations. This would inform strategies for the management of AF aiming to prevent continued cognitive impairment.


atrial fibrillation; cognitive impairment; dementia; metabolic syndrome; obesity

Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Loading ...
Support Center