We like to think of our heads and our hearts as opposites. Our heads are for logic and reason while our hearts are how we feel and love.
While this has never exactly been a scientific truth, when it comes to heart failure the picture is even more complex.
In addition to feeling down or anxious about a heart failure diagnosis (which is a very natural and normal reaction), increasingly, changes in mood, memory function, and even decision making are being recognized as direct side effects of heart failure. This is known as cognitive impairment.1
We know that heart failure can reduce the rate at which oxygen-rich blood is pumped around the body.2 This, in turn, can reduce the supply of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs, which can impact their ability to function normally – including the brain. This means that people with heart failure may experience a range of symptoms related to decreased blood flow to the brain, including dizziness, low mood, and reduction in short-term memory.1
Did you know?
While this sounds scary, it is important to remember that there are things that you can do to help keep your heart and mind happy.
1: Efthimios Dardiotis, Gregory Giamouzis, Dimos Mastrogiannis, et al. Cognitive Impairment in Heart Failure, Cardiology Research and Practice, 2012 (2012).
2: Harrison’s ‘Principles of Internal Medicine’, Seventeenth Edition pages 1442 - 1455.
3: Raichle, Marchus E and Gusnard, Debra A, Appraising the brain’s energy budget, PNAS 2002;99 (16) 10237 – 10239.
4: Self-Care: Following Your Treatment Plan and Dealing with Your Symptoms. Available URL: http://www.hfsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Module-4-Update.pdf. Accessed November 7’ 2016.