Cognitive impairment is common in heart failure (HF) and believed to be the result of cerebral hypoperfusion and subsequent brain changes including white matter hyperintensities (WMHs). The current study examined the association between cerebral blood flow and WMHs in patients with HF and the relationship between WMHs and cognitive impairment. Sixty-nine patients with HF completed the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and underwent echocardiography, transcranial Doppler sonography for cerebral blood flow velocity of the middle cerebral artery, and brain magnetic resonance imaging. Multivariable hierarchical regression analyses controlling for medical and demographic characteristics as well as intracranial volume showed reduced cerebral blood flow velocity of the middle cerebral artery was associated with greater WMHs (β=-0.34, P=.02). Follow-up regression analyses adjusting for the same medical and demographic factors in addition to cerebral perfusion also revealed marginal significance between increased WMHs and poorer performance on the MMSE (β=-0.26, P=.05). This study suggests that reduced cerebral perfusion is associated with greater WMHs in older adults with HF. These findings support the widely proposed mechanism of cognitive impairment in HF patients and prospective studies are needed to confirm these results.
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.