Exercise could boost memory in people with heart failure

Exercise could boost memory in people with heart failure

In a new study, researchers found that exercise could help improve memory in people with heart failure.

The finding could help develop a new method to protect cognitive functions in these patients.

The research was conducted by an international team including researchers from the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Italy.

About 67% of patients with heart failure have cognitive problems.

Previous research has shown that the cognitive abilities that are particularly damaged in heart failure patients are the memory, processing speed, and executive functions.

Processing speed is the time it takes to understand and react to information. Executive functions include paying attention, planning, setting goals, making decisions, starting tasks.

In the current study, the team analyzed data from the HF-Wii study, which enrolled 605 patients with heart failure from six countries. The average age was 67 and 71% of patients were men.

All patients completed tests to measure cognitive functions. Their exercise capacity was measured with the six-minute walk test.

The team found that heart failure patients who walked further in a six-minute test (i.e. having better fitness) and those who were younger and more educated had better cognitive performance, including memory.

The finding suggests that fitter patients have healthier brain function.

This is very important because many heart failure patients with mild cognitive impairment may forget to take their medicines.

These patients may not know that weight gain brings health risks and that it requires prompt intervention.

The researchers suggest that exercise may help improve quality as well as the length of life in people with heart failure.

They also suggest that doctors might need to adapt their educational approach with heart failure patients.

Future work needs to directly test if physical activity improves cognition in heart failure patients.

The leader of the HF-Wii Study is Professor Tiny Jaarsma and Professor Anna Stromberg from Linkoping University, Sweden.

The study is presented at EuroHeartCare 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

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