Elderly patients with cognitive impairment show higher heart failure readmission and increased mortality

By: Emily Lunardo | Brain Function | Friday, September 23, 2016 - 12:00 PM

Elderly patients with cognitive impairment show higher heart failure readmission and increased mortality Elderly patients with cognitive impairment have a higher risk of heart failure readmission and all-cause mortality. The study found that patients with cognitive impairment had a 7.5 times higher risk for heart failure readmission and all cause death. The study suggests that in these patients, adhering to a medication treatment plan may get progressively worse, contributing to adverse outcomes.

Researcher Hiroshi Saito said, “Systematic reviews have shown that cognitive impairment is common in patients with chronic heart failure. However, the impact of cognitive impairment on the prognosis of heart failure patients is not known. Our study investigated whether cognitive impairment independently predicted the outcome of elderly patients with heart failure.”

The study included 136 patients over the age of 65 with heart failure. The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) was used to measure cognitive abilities. Patients were divided into two groups: those with a cognitive disorder and those without one.

The researchers found that prognosis was progressively worse in the cognitive disorder group, even after adjusting the results for other common risk factors.

Dr. Saito added, “Our study shows that cognitive impairment is common in elderly patients with heart failure, occurring in three-quarters of patients. We also found that cognitive impairment is an independent predictor of worse prognosis in elderly heart failure patients, who had a 7.5 times greater risk of all-cause death or heart failure readmission.”

“We expect that heart failure patients with cognitive impairment tend to get progressively worse at adhering to medications. It is possible that this could explain why they have a worse prognosis. Cardiologists and other medical staff should assess the cognitive status of elderly heart failure patients. When cognitive status is impaired, we should provide education on disease management to families to prevent heart failure readmission of their loved ones. The three major components of this are medication, nutrition, and exercise. Of these three components, medication is an especially important element. It is necessary for families to enhance medication adherence for patients who are unable to manage their medication by themselves.”

“There are no specific treatments for cognitive impairment in heart failure patients. If patients do not have shortness of breath resulting from their heart failure, we often recommend mild exercise such as walking to maintain their cognitive function. Clinicians need to be more aware of the cognitive status of their heart failure patients, and families can play an important role in ensuring that patients take their medication, get some exercise, and eat well,” Dr. Saito concluded.

Preventive tips to manage cognitive impairment and heart failure in elderly

If the key to a healthy mind is a healthy heart, it’s important to embark on a heart-healthy lifestyle. Boosting heart health can happen at any age, so don’t think it’s too late to try on these tips.

Exercise: Seniors tend to lead a more sedentary lifestyle. This has many implications on their health, including higher blood pressure and weight gain. Exercise not only combats these ailments, but it can greatly improve your heart health overall.

Eat well: Diet plays a large role in heart health because it can greatly affect weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Enjoying foods high in fiber, healthy fat, and antioxidants can work to boost heart health.

Control stress: Stress can raise blood pressure and wreak havoc on your body. It can even increase your heart rate. Minimizing stress is a useful tool in maintaining proper heart health.

Know your risk: If heart disease or any other heart illnesses run in your family, it could be passed down to you. Knowing your family’s medical history can prompt you to get checked out early and prevent any future damage.

Manage other medical conditions: Because your heart is such a vital organ to your body, it has to work harder if other medical conditions are not managed well. From diabetes or sleep apnea, managing health conditions can improve your heart health as well.

Cut down on booze: Moderate drinking of red wine has shown benefits for heart health, but excessive drinking can actually hurt the heart as it raises cortisol levels similar to stress.

Drink coffee: Studies have shown moderate coffee consumption can help reduce the risk of heart failure by as much as 11 percent.

Sprinkle on some flaxseed: Flaxseeds contain essential omega fatty acids, which have been shown to boost heart health. They also contain fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol, a known risk factor for heart problems.

Lose weight: Being overweight puts your heart at risk, and studies have shown just losing five percent of your bodyweight is enough to start improving your heart health. Weight loss also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which are risk factors for heart-related problems.

These are just some useful tips to promote a healthier heart. Not only will your heart benefit, but your overall health will improve as well. A strong heart isn’t just meant for a strong mind. Your heart is your body’s powerhouse. Without it, all other functions fail. Therefore, if you want to maintain your memory and live healthy, take necessary steps to boost your heart health.


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Related Reading:

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Heart attack recovery: Diet and exercise after heart attack

Sources:

https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Cognitive-impairment-predicts-worse-outcome-in-heart-failure

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