Prevalence of Dementia 7.5 Years after Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery

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Although postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is well described after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, a major concern has been that a progressive decline in cognition will ultimately lead to dementia. Since dementia interferes with the ability to carry out daily functions, the impact has far greater ramifications than cognitive decline defined purely by a decreased ability to perform on a battery of neurocognitive tests. The authors hypothesized that early cognitive impairment measured as baseline cognitive impairment is associated with an increased risk of long-term dementia.


The authors conducted a prospective longitudinal study on 326 patients aged 55 yr and older at the time of undergoing CABG surgery. Dementia was classified by expert opinion on review of performance on the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale and several other assessment tasks. Patients were also assessed for POCD at 3 and 12 months and at 7.5 yr using a battery of neuropsychologic tests and classified using the reliable change index. Associations were assessed using univariable analysis.


At 7.5 yr after CABG surgery, the prevalence of dementia was 36 of 117 patients (30.8%; 95% CI, 23 to 40). POCD was detected in 62 of 189 patients (32.8%; 95% CI, 26 to 40). Due to incomplete assessments, the majority (113 patients), but not all, were assessed for both dementia and POCD. Fourteen of 32 (44%) patients with dementia were also classified as having POCD. Preexisting cognitive impairment and peripheral vascular disease were both associated with dementia 7.5 yr after CABG surgery. POCD at both 3 (odds ratio, 3.06; 95% CI, 1.39 to 9.30) and 12 months (odds ratio, 4.74; 95% CI, 1.63 to 13.77) was associated with an increased risk of mortality by 7.5 yr.


The prevalence of dementia at 7.5 yr after CABG surgery is greatly increased compared to population prevalence. Impaired cognition before surgery or the presence of cardiovascular disease may contribute to the high prevalence.

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