Washington: Researchers suggest that physical activity improves mental action in heart failure patients, further improving quality and length of their life.
According to research presented at the Meeting of EuroHeartCare, two-thirds of patients with heart failure have cognitive problems.
Heart failure patients who walked further in a six-minute test, as well as those who were younger and more highly educated, were significantly less likely to have cognitive impairment. The results suggest that fitter patients have healthier brain function.
Study author Professor Ercole Vellone, said: “The message for patients with heart failure is to exercise. We don’t have direct evidence yet that physical activity improves cognition in heart failure patients, but we know it improves their quality and length of life. In addition, studies in older adults have shown that exercise is
associated with improved cognition – we hope to show the same for heart failure patients in future studies.”
The cognitive abilities that are particularly damaged in heart failure patients are memory, processing speed (time it takes to understand and react to information), and executive functions (paying attention, planning, setting
goals, making decisions, starting tasks).
“These areas are important for memorising healthcare information and having the correct understanding and response to the disease process. For example, heart failure patients with mild cognitive impairment may forget to take medicines and may not comprehend that weight gain is an alarming situation that requires prompt intervention,” said Professor Vellone.
Professor Vellone added: “There is a misconception that patients with heart failure should not exercise. That is clearly not the case. Find an activity you enjoy that you can do regularly. It could be walking, swimming, or any number of activities. There is good evidence that it will improve your health and your memory, and make you feel better.”