Congestive heart failure and cognitive impairment in an older population. Osservatorio Geriatrico Campano Study Group

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Nov;46(11):1343-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1998.tb05999.x.


Objective: Congestive heart failure (CHF) is potentially preventable, and the identification of modifiable risk factors for cognitive impairment (CI) for older persons is a very important issue. We examined the cross-sectional relationship between CHF and CI in an older population.

Design: A cross-sectional survey.

Setting and participants: A total of 1339 subjects aged 65 and older were selected from the electoral rolls of Campania, a region of southern Italy.

Measurements: Sociodemographic characteristics were recorded, as was the presence of cardiovascular diseases, including CHF classified according to the New York Heart Association (NYHA) guidelines for disease severity; CI evaluated by means of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), with a score of <24 indicating impairment; geriatric depression scale (GDS) rating; blood pressure (BP); and heart rate (HR).

Results: The final sample numbered 1075; 172 subjects were excluded because of neurological disorders and psychotropic therapy, and 92 were excluded because their BP, HR, or cognitive examination was not recorded. Prevalence of CHF was 8.2%, and 23.0% of subjects scored <24 on the MMSE. The prevalence of CHF in subjects with an MMSE score of <24 and > or =24 was 20.2% and 4.6%, respectively (P < .001). Logistic regression analysis showed that CHF was associated independently with CI by sex, age, educational level, GDS, diabetes, hypertension, alcohol consumption, smoking, atrial fibrillation, systolic and diastolic BP, and HR. The risk of CI was 1.96-fold greater in subjects with CHF (odds ratio: 1.96; 95% confidence interval: 1.07-3.58; P < .028). Systolic BP decrease was correlated negatively with NYHA classes only in subjects with CI (r = -0.981; P < .020), whereas HR increase was correlated positively with NYHA classes only in subjects without CI (r = 0.985; P < .015).

Conclusions: In our population, CHF is associated with CI in subjects aged 65 years and older. Systolic BP reduction and the lack of HR increase, related to NYHA classes, might characterize cognitively impaired subjects with CHF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Heart Failure / classification
  • Heart Failure / complications*
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors