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Heart failure 'linked to brain damage'

health and fitness Updated: Feb 03, 2012 19:00 IST

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People with heart failure are also likely to suffer extensive damage in the brain, says a study in the European Heart Journal.

An international team, led by the University of Western Australia, claims to have for the first time established a link between heart failure and loss of cerebral grey matter and impaired cognitive function in the brain.

The study revealed that people with heart failure (HF) and ischaemic heart disease (IHD) may suffer impaired memory, reasoning and planning, with the possible medical implication of suffering difficulty in following self-care advice.

The study of 155 adults -- consisting of 64 controls, 35 with heart failure and 56 with ischaemic heart disease --was used to determine whether compared with "controls" with and without IHD, adults with systolic HF show evidence of cognitive impairment and cerebral grey matter (GM) loss.

Lead author Prof Osvaldo Almeida said that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allowed the examination of the impact of both heart failure and ischaemic heart disease on cerebral grey matter. MRI was used to assess differences in the volume of GM in different parts of the brain.

The findings reveal that adults with HF have worse immediate and long-term memory and psychomotor speed than controls without IHD.

"It showed that people with heart failure display more widespread and extensive brain changes than adults with ischaemic heart disease," the 'sciencenetwork' online quoted Prof Almeida as saying.

He added: "It could be possible that patients with heart failure have trouble following complex management strategies, and therefore, treatment messages should be simple and clear."