Background and Purpose—Although by definition transient, both transient ischemic attack (TIA) and transient neurological attack (TNA) are associated with cognitive impairment. Determinants and course of cognitive function afterward are, however, unclear. We prospectively determined cognitive performance after TIA and TNA in relation to clinical diagnosis and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) results.
Methods—TIA and TNA patients aged ≥45 years without prior stroke or dementia underwent comprehensive cognitive assessment and magnetic resonance imaging within 7 days after the qualifying event. Cognitive tests were repeated after 6 months. Domain-specific compound zscores based on the baseline mean and SD were calculated. Repeated-measures analysis was used to test for differences in domain-specific cognitive performance over time between DWI-positive and DWI-negative patients, as well as between TIA and TNA patients.
Results—One hundred twenty-one patients were included (mean age (SD), 64.6 years (9.2 years), 60% TIA and 40% TNA) of whom 32 (26%) had a DWI lesion. Executive function performance decreased over time (mean change in compound score −0.23; P=0.01 adjusted for age, sex, education), whereas attention improved (0.11; P=0.02), and information processing speed and episodic memory remained unchanged. Patients with a DWI lesion had worse executive function at baseline than those without a DWI lesion (compound scores −0.26 versus 0.08; P=0.048), which persisted throughout the study period (P=0.04). Clinical diagnosis (TIA or TNA) was not related to cognitive function over time.
Conclusions—Executive function declines during the first 6 months after TIA or TNA. Patients with an initial DWI lesion have persisting worse executive function than those without.