Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with cognitive decline and dementia. This study investigates whether the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) detects more cognitive decline than the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) in patients with AF. Secondary aims were to assess the rate of white matter hyperintensities (WMH) and mesotemporal atrophy (MTA) in patients with AF.
Methods: Observational cohort study. Patients of 65 years and older that visited the Fall and Syncope Clinic were eligible. Patients were included if both a MoCA and MMSE were completed. In patients of whom an MRI was performed WMH were assessed with the Fazekas score and MTA was assessed with the MTA score. To assess frailty a Frailty Index (FI) was calculated.
Results: 428 patients were included. Mean age was 80 years, 66% was female. The mean FI was 0.28 (CI 0.11 to 0.45), indicative of severe frailty. In 90 patients AF was known and in 9 patients it was first diagnosed, overall prevalence 23%. Cognitive impairment was found with the MoCA in 80% of patients with persistent AF, versus in 33% with the MMSE. Patients with paroxysmal AF had more WMH than patients with SR (p 0.04). No differences were found in relevant MTA between patients with AF or SR.
Conclusions: Cognitive decline in patients with AF is better detected using the MoCA than the MMSE. This means that in daily clinical practice, the MOCA should be used instead of the MMSE for patients with AF.
Keywords: Cognition; Frailty; Geriatric cardiology.