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Heart disease linked with cognitive decline

GPs are being urged to provide ‘simpler' treatment regimens in patients with heart failure, as a new study shows a link with a decline in cognition.

The Australian study included 35 patients with heart failure, 56 with ischaemic heart disease and 64 healthy controls, all over the age of 45.

Those with heart failure had worse short- and long-term memory and reaction speed than controls – scoring 2.8 points lower on the Cambridge Cognitive Examination of the Elderly Revised scale than healthy controls.

The association was also present, but less pronounced, in those with ischaemic heart disease – who scored 1.8 points lower than controls.

Both ischaemic heart disease and heart failure patients had a relative loss of grey matter, compared with healthy controls, on MRI scanning – but again the deficit was more extensive in those with heart failure.

Study lead Professor Osvaldo Almeida, professor of geriatric psychiatry at the University of Western Australia said that their findings were ‘consistent with the possibility that patients with heart failure may have trouble following complex management strategies.'

European Heart Journal 2012, published online 31 January