Heart failure 'can make patients forget when to take their medication'Heart failure shown to cause changes to the brain
that could affect memory
Scientists believe heart failure could be linked to memory loss, making it harder for patients to stick to treatment regimes
Heart failure could be linked to memory loss, say scientists.
A study found people suffering from the condition experienced changes in regions of their brain responsible for higher mental processing and decision making.
The researchers believe this could make it harder for people to remember simple tasks such as when to take medication.
Heart failure is a serious condition
that describes what happens when the heart has trouble pumping enough
blood around the body, often because it has become too weak or stiff.
It is characterised by breathlessness, extreme tiredness and weakness, and swelling in the legs, ankles and feet and in most cases medication is prescribed to temper the symptoms.
However the latest findings suggest that the condition could lead to a loss of grey matter in the brain, making it difficult for people to stick to treatment regimes.
Lead researcher Professor Osvaldo Almeida, from the University of Western Australia said: 'Consequently, loss of brain cells in
these regions may affect a person's performance in a number of
different areas, such as memory, behaviour modification, inhibition,
both emotional and cognitive, and organisation.
'Our findings indicate that diseases
that affect the heart affect the brain as well, and that the changes in
organ function and blood circulation associated with heart failure seem
to compound these effects in the brain.'
The small-scale study, published in the
European Heart Journal, analysed data for 35 people with heart failure,
56 with coronary heart disease and 64 healthy people acting as
All participants were aged over 45 and did not suffer any obvious cognitive impairment.
Each were subject to a series of tests, including using MRI scans to look at the volume of grey matter in the brain.
The results showed that people with
heart failure had worse immediate and long-term memory and reaction
speeds than healthy people, and experienced changes in their brain
linked to cognitive and emotional processing.
Prof Almeida added: 'What we found in this study is that both ischaemic heart disease and
heart failure are associated with a loss of cells in certain brain
regions that are important for the modulation of emotions and mental
The scientists have said that larger and longer studies are now needed to confirm the results.
Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse
at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), also called for more studies,
adding: 'The biggest implication of this research is that patients may
find it difficult to stick to treatment regimes and forget to take their
'It is important to speak to your GP and your heart failure nurse about what is best for you.'
Heart failure affects about 900,000 people in the UK.
It tends to affect older
people, is more common in men than women, and can be caused by other
problems, such as high blood pressure or a heart attack.