Background: Evidence suggests an association between congestive heart failure (CHF) and cognitive function, particularly in heart transplant patients and patients hospitalized for CHF. We examined the association between CHF and cognitive performance in stable outpatients recruited from primary care.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional secondary data analysis of the Steel Valley Seniors Survey, an epidemiological study of elderly primary care outpatients. Participants aged ≥ 65 years were recruited in primary care clinics. The study cohort (n = 354) is a subgroup, composed of subjects with Mini-mental State Examination score < 25, and a random sample of the remaining, who underwent a baseline assessment in the home. The assessment included demographics, comorbid illnesses, depressive symptoms, functional status, a neurological examination and a neuropsychological battery. CHF is defined by self-report and/or chart review, and stable CHF as not being hospitalized in the year prior to the assessment. The associations between CHF and specific cognitive tests were examined by bivariate analysis and logistic regression, controlling for demographic variables.
Results: Subjects with CHF performed worse on tests of visual memory [10.1 (S.D. 5.4) vs. 12.7 (S.D. 5.2), p = 0.007], Trailmaking B [0.1 (0.1) vs. 0.2 (0.1), p = 0.002], category fluency [11.1 (4.4) vs. 13.4 (4.5), p = 0.008], and clock drawing [5.6 (1.9) vs. 6.7 (1.4), p < 0.001] compared to subjects without CHF, after adjustment for relevant demographic variables.
Conclusion: CHF is associated with lower cognitive functioning in a population of patients with stable heart failure in primary care settings.