Heart failure compromises cognitive skills

In a study of 155 adults, geriatric psychiatrist Professor Osvaldo Almeida and colleagues found patients with heart failure had worse psychomotor speed and poorer immediate and long-term memory than people free from heart failure or ischaemic heart disease. 

MRI scans showed they also experienced a disproportionate loss of cerebral grey matter in brain regions relevant to cognitive function.

“We found people with ischaemic heart disease also suffered a loss of brain cells in similar areas, but it was much less severe,” said Professor Almeida, from the University of Western Australia. 

“These deficits were subtle, but they did affect patients’ abilities to complete tasks that required mental effort, focus, concentration or required people to multitask.” 

Professor Almeida said as patients with heart failure often had comorbid disorders requiring their own set of medications and lifestyle changes,