Background: Although atrial fibrillation (AF) has a risk of cognitive dysfunction, it is not clear whether AF catheter ablation improves or worsens cognitive function. This prospective case-control study sought to assess the 1-year serial changes in the cognitive function with or without AF catheter ablation. Methods: We evaluated the Montreal Cognitive Assessment score in 308 patients (71.4% male, 60.6±9.1 years of age, 34.1% persistent AF) who underwent AF ablation (ablation group) and 50 AF patients on medical therapy who met the same indication for AF ablation (control group), at baseline and 3 and 12 months after enrollment. Cognitive impairment was defined as a published cutoff score of <23 points. To exclude any learning effects, we used the practice-adjusted reliable change index for assessing the cognitive changes. Results: Preablation cognitive impairment was detected in 18.5% (57/308). The Montreal Cognitive Assessment score significantly improved 1 year after radiofrequency catheter ablation in both overall ablation group (24.9±2.9-26.4±2.5; P<0.001) and the propensity-matched ablation group (25.4±2.4-26.5±2.3; P<0.001), but not in the control group (25.4±2.5-24.8±2.5; P=0.012). Preablation cognitive impairment (odds ratio, 13.70; 95% CI, 4.83-38.87; P<0.001) was independently associated with an improvement in the 1-year post-ablation cognitive function. In the reliable change index analyses, 94.7% of propensity-matched ablation group showed an improved/stable cognitive function at the 1-year follow-up. Conclusions: Catheter ablation of AF, at least, does not deteriorate the cognitive function, but rather improves the performance on 1-year follow-up neurocognitive tests, especially in patients with a preablation cognitive impairment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)