Cognitive changes 5 years after coronary artery bypass grafting: Is there evidence of late decline?

O. A. Selnes, R. M. Royall, M. A. Grega, Jr Borowicz, S. Quashey, G. M. McKhann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the long-term (preoperative to 5 years postoperative) and late (1-5 years postoperative) changes in cognitive test performance in patients after coronary artery bypass grafting. Setting: The departments of surgery and neurology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md. Patients: A group of 102 patients who completed preoperative and follow-up cognitive testing up to 5 years after coronary artery bypass grafting. Main Outcome Measures: A battery of neuropsychological tests, assessing 8 cognitive domains (attention, language, verbal and visual memory, visuoconstruction, executive function, and psychomotor and motor speed), was administered preoperatively and at 1 month, 1 year, and 5 years postoperatively. Results: Significant changes in neuropsychological test scores from baseline to 5 years were observed in only 3 of the 8 domains: there were declines in visuoconstruction and psychomotor speed and an improvement in executive function. When the period from baseline to 5 years was divided into 2 intervals, we found that cognitive test scores generally improved from baseline to 1 year. By contrast, between 1 and 5 years, there was significant decline in all cognitive domains except for attention and executive function. Some potential explanatory covariates (demographic, medical history, and surgery variables) were associated with changes from baseline to 5 years in some cognitive domains, but few covariates were statistically significant in more than 1 cognitive domain. Conclusions: The change in cognitive test performance between baseline and 5 years is likely related to several factors, including low baseline performance and practice effects. The significant decline in performance between 1 and 5 years, however, raises the possibility that a late cognitive decline may be occurring in this population. Additional studies, with the use of a nonsurgical control group, are needed to determine if the observed cognitive decline is related to bypass surgery itself, normal aging in a population with cardiovascular risk factors, or some combination of these and other factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)598-604
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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