Background: Congestive heart failure (CHF) has been associated with impaired cognitive function, but it is unclear if these changes are specific to CHF and if they get worse with time. We designed this study to determine if adults with CHF show evidence of cognitive decline compared with adults with and without coronary artery disease (CAD).
Methods: A longitudinal study was carried out of 77 adults with CHF (ejection fraction, EF < 0.4), 73 adults with a clinical history of CAD and EF > 0.6, and 81 controls with no history of CAD. The Cambridge Cognitive Examination of the Elderly (CAMCOG) was the primary outcome measure. Secondary measures included the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), digit coding and copying, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and the short form health survey (SF36). Endpoints were collected at baseline and after 12 and 24 months.
Results: The adjusted CAMCOG scores of CHF participants declined 0.9 points over two years (p = 0.022) compared with controls without CAD. There were no differences between the groups on other cognitive measures. Participants with CHF and with CAD experienced similar changes in cognitive function over two years. Left ventricular EF and six-minute walk test results could not explain the observed associations.
Conclusions: The changes in cognitive function and mood associated with CHF over two years are subtle and not specific to CHF.