Background Measures of cardiac ventricular electrophysiology have been associated with cognitive performance in cross-sectional studies. We sought to evaluate the association of worsening ventricular repolarization in midlife, as measured by incident prolonged QT interval, with cognitive decline in late life. Methods Midlife QT interval was assessed by electrocardiography during three study visits from 1965/68 to 1971/74 in a cohort of Japanese American men aged 46–68 at Exam 1 from the Honolulu Heart Study. We defined incident prolonged QT as the QT interval in the upper quartile at Exam 2 or 3 after QT interval in lower three quartiles at Exam 1. Cognitive performance was assessed at least once using the Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument (CASI), scored using item response theory (CASI-IRT), during four subsequent visits from 1991/93 to 1999/2000 among 2,511 of the 4,737 men in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study otherwise eligible for inclusion in analyses. We used marginal structural modeling to determine the association of incident prolonged QT with cognitive decline, using weighting to account for confounding and attrition. Results Incident prolonged QT interval in midlife was not associated with late-life CASI-IRT at cognitive baseline (estimated difference in CASI-IRT: 0.04; 95% CI: -0.28, 0.35; p = 0.81), or change in CASI-IRT over time (estimated difference in annual change in CASI-IRT: -0.002; 95%CI: -0.013, 0.010; p = 0.79). Findings were consistent across sensitivity analyses. Conclusions Although many midlife cardiovascular risk factors and cardiac structure and function measures are associated with late-life cognitive decline, incident prolonged QT interval in midlife was not associated with late-life cognitive performance or cognitive decline.
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