Neuropsychological impairment is common, yet variable, after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Similar variability has been observed in other CNS-related diseases. Empirical findings in Alzheimer's disease and HIV, among other areas, suggest cognitive reserve (CR) may mediate the cognitive impact of these diseases. The present study examined whether CR mediates neuropsychological outcome after CABG. Participants were 42 (N=42) individuals who underwent elective, normothermic CABG. Each was placed in high (n=22) or low (n=20) CR groups based on estimated premorbid intelligence and occupational attainment. All were administered neuropsychological tests preoperatively and at discharge. The total incidence of neuropsychological decline (66.7%) was not significantly different between CR groups. However, on working memory and executive function tests, specifically, the high CR group demonstrated greater post-operative decline compared to the low CR group. These data are considered in the context of a threshold model of CR theory.

Author notes

Poster presented at the 23rd annual meeting of the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN), Dallas, Texas, October 15–18, 2003. Recipient of a NAN 2003 Poster Award.