There is a link between cognitive impairment and an increased risk for rehospitalization or early death in heart failure patients, according to a new study from Lund University in Sweden.

The study, conducted by researchers at Skåne University Hospital and Lund University, is the first study in which cognitive impairment was linked to worse prognoses in a larger group of heart failure patients who have received care at Skåne University in Malmö, according to a press release.

“The patients were asked to complete three different cognitive tests within the framework for the study,” said Martin Magnusson, PhD, consultant in cardiology at Skåne University Hospital and adjunct professor at Lund University, in a press release. “The independent connection we could see was that patients who performed worse on the tests were at an increased risk of rehospitalization and at an increased risk of death.”

The study authors examined 281 patients, of whom 80 demonstrated cognitive impairment in the tests. However, only 4 of the patients were previously aware that their cognitive ability was impaired, according to the study.

“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,” Magnusson said.

Hannes Holm, MD, resident physician in cardiology at Skåne University Hospital and post doc in Magnusson’s research group, said that the study only shows a link between the results of the cognitive tests and the rehospitalization and death of heart failure patients.

“As yet, we still do not know 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,” Holm said in a press release.

Further, it has not been studied how heart failure patients would react to being screened for cognitive function and then receive cognitive support in their heart failure treatment, according to the researchers.

“This is something we want to look at further,” Magnusson said in a press release. “If our hypothesis is correct, it could mean that this patient group can be offered greater support in their cognitive ability, which in turn can be a simple and pragmatic way to save more lives.”

REFERENCE
Link between cognitive impairment and worse prognosis in heart failure patients. Lund University. https://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/article/link-between-cognitive-impairment-and-worse-prognosis-heart-failure-patients. Published August 27, 2020. Accessed August 28, 2020.