This health problem linked to worse outcome in people with heart failure

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Heart failure is an endemic disease affecting 250,000 Swedes. Despite new treatments such as modern medicines and defibrillators, the mortality rate is still high and the prognosis worse than for certain cancers.

In a new study, researchers found a link between cognitive impairment and an increased risk for early death in heart failure patients.

It is the first study in which cognitive impairment is linked to worse prognoses in a larger group of heart failure patients.

The research was conducted by a team from Lund University in Sweden and elsewhere.

Cognitive ability refers to, for example, memory, the ability to orient oneself in time and place, problem-solving, and the use of numbers and language.

The study looked at 281 patients of whom 80 demonstrated cognitive impairment in the tests. However, only four of them were previously aware that their cognitive ability was impaired.

The patients were asked to complete three different cognitive tests within the framework for the study.

The independent connection was that patients who performed worse on the tests were at an increased risk of early death.

The team says it could be that this patient group has a reduced ability to comply with evidence-based treatment recommendations—particularly if they are unaware of their cognitive impairment. However, this has not been studied.

Future work needs to see if it is the cognitive impairment that has this effect on the prognosis of heart failure patients, or if it is the heart failure itself that affects the cognition.

One author of the study is Martin Magnusson, a consultant in cardiology.

The study is published in ESC Heart Failure.

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