Until now, little attention has been paid to the preoperative status of the patient awaiting cardiac surgery when investigating the effects of cardiac surgery on cognition. However, there is growing evidence that pre-bypass patients show poorer cognitive function than healthy subjects. This article reviews existing published evidence of poor cognitive function in pre-bypass patients by describing patient characteristics, providing an inventory of affected neurocognitive domains, discussing adequate control groups and proposing potential aetiological mechanisms of neuropsychological dysfunctioning. It is concluded that there is a growing need for future research into this important topic on cognitive dysfunctioning in candidates for coronary artery bypass grafting surgery.
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