Association of Atrial Fibrillation With White Matter Disease: The ARIC Study

Iris Yuefan Shao, Melinda C. Power, Thomas Mosley, Clifford Jack, Rebecca F. Gottesman, Lin Y. Chen, Faye L. Norby, Elsayed Z. Soliman, Alvaro Alonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - Evidence suggests that atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia, even in the absence of stroke. White matter disease (WMD) is a potential mechanism linking AF to cognitive impairment. In this study, we explored the association between prevalent AF and WMD. Methods - We performed a cross-sectional analysis of participants attending the ARIC-NCS (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities-Neurocognitive Study) in 2011 to 2013 who underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging. AF was ascertained from study visit electrocardiograms or prior hospitalization codes. Extent of WMD was defined by measures of white matter (WM) microstructural integrity and WM hyperintensity volume. Multivariable linear regression models were used to assess the association between AF and WMD. Results - Among 1899 participants (mean age, 76 years; 28% black; 60% women), 133 (7%) had prevalent AF. After multivariable adjustment, differences between participants with and without AF were -0.001 (95% CI, -0.006 to 0.004) for global WM fractional anisotropy, 0.031×10-4 mm2/s (95% CI, -0.075 to 0.137) for global WM mean diffusivity, and 0.08 mm3 (95% CI, -0.14 to 0.30) for WM hyperintensity volume. Conclusions - The results suggest that there is no association between prevalent AF and WMD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-991
Number of pages3
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Heart Association, Inc.


  • atrial fibrillation
  • cognitive dysfunction
  • dementia
  • leukoencephalopathies
  • white matter


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