Impact of atrial fibrillation on the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease

Taizen Nakase, Yasuko Tatewaki, Benjamin Thyreau, Hayato Odagiri, Naoki Tomita, Shuzo Yamamoto, Yumi Takano, Michiho Muranaka, Yasuyuki Taki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a strong risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) independent of ischemic stroke. However, the clinicopathological impact of AF on the severity of AD has not been well elucidated. We aimed to investigate the clinical differences between dementia patients with AF and those without AF by means of imaging data. Methods: Following approval from the institutional ethics committee, patients with newly diagnosed AD or amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) were retrospectively screened (n = 170, 79.5 ± 7.4 years old). Cognitive function was assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Based on the MRI data, the cerebral volume, cerebral microbleeds (CMBs), periventricular white matter lesions (WMLs), and deep WMLs were evaluated. The regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was measured using 123I-IMP SPECT. Results: Of the patients, 14 (8.2%) and 156 (91.8%) had AF (AF group) and sinus rhythm (SR group), respectively. The AF group had significantly lower MMSE scores than the SR group (average [standard deviation (SD)]: 19.4 [4.4] and 22.0 [4.4], respectively; p = 0.0347). Cerebral volume and CMBs did not differ between the two groups. The periventricular WMLs, but not the deep WMLs, were significantly larger in the AF group than in the SR group (mean [SD] mL: 6.85 [3.78] and 4.37 [3.21], respectively; p = 0.0070). However, there was no significant difference in rCBF in the areas related to AD pathology between the two groups. Conclusion: AD and aMCI patients with AF showed worse cognitive decline along with larger periventricular WMLs compared to those with SR, although the reduction of rCBF was not different between patients with AF and SR. The white matter lesions may be a more important pathology than the impairment of cerebral blood flow in dementia patients with AF. A larger study is needed to confirm our findings in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalAlzheimer's Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Dec


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Single-photon emission tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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