Blunted responses to heart failure symptoms in adults with mild cognitive dysfunction

Christopher S. Lee, Jill M. Gelow, Julie T. Bidwell, James O. Mudd, Jennifer K. Green, Corrine Y. Jurgens, Diana S. Woodruff-Pak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION:: Mild cognitive dysfunction is common among adults with heart failure (HF). We hypothesized that mild cognitive dysfunction would be associated with poor HF self-care behaviors, particularly patients' ability to respond to symptoms. METHODS:: We analyzed data on 148 participants in an observational study of symptoms in adults with moderate-to-advanced HF. Mild cognitive dysfunction was measured with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA; range, 0-30), using cutoff scores for the general population (26) and for adults with cardiovascular disease (24). Heart failure self-care management (evaluation and response to HF symptoms) was measured with the Self-care of HF Index, and consulting behaviors (calling a provider when symptoms occur) were measured using the European HF Self-care Behavior Scale-9. Generalized linear modeling and hierarchical linear modeling were used to quantify the relationship between MoCA cutoff scores and indices of HF self-care. RESULTS:: The mean age of the sample was 57 ± 12 years, 61.5% were men, and 58.8% had class III/IV HF; the mean left ventricular ejection fraction was 28% ± 12%. Using MoCA scores of 26 and 24, respectively, 33.1% and 14.2% of the sample had mild cognitive dysfunction. Controlling for common confounders, participants with MoCA scores lower than 26 reported self-care comparable with that of participants with MoCA scores of 26 or higher. Participants with MoCA scores lower than 24, however, reported 21.5% worse self-care management (P = 0.014) and 51% worse consulting behaviors (P < 0.001) compared with participants with MoCA scores of 24 or higher. CONCLUSIONS:: A disease-specific cutoff for mild cognitive dysfunction reveals marked differences patients' ability to recognize and respond to HF symptoms when they occur. Adults with HF and mild cognitive dysfunction are a vulnerable patient group in great need of interventions that complement HF self-care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-540
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • cognition
  • heart failure
  • self-care
  • self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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