Objectives To compare patients with coronary artery disease and healthy controls with respect to cognitive function and driving performance.
Design and setting A controlled study conducted between April 1999 and January 2001.
Subjects Forty-four patients with stable coronary artery disease scheduled for cardiac intervention with coronary artery bypass surgery or percutaneous coronary intervention. Forty volunteers of similar age without symptoms of coronary artery disease served as controls.
Main outcome measures On-road driving scores in five specific test areas with a rating scale from 1 to 5. Neuropsychological test scores, including 12 tests.
Results Compared with controls, patients with coronary artery disease had lower scores in all areas of the on-road driving test (p<0.05) and in the neuropsychological tests assessing psychomotor speed, visual and verbal memory, focused attention and simultaneous capacity (p<0.05). The difference between the groups in the on-road driving test appeared to be more pronounced among those above 65 years-of-age. Both patients and controls rated their performance significantly higher than the traffic inspector (p<0.05).
Conclusions Cognitive function and driving performance may be impaired in patients with coronary artery disease.