Publication Date

2015

Abstract

Although cognitive deficits are common in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF), no study to date has investigated whether these deficits extend to the capacity to execute delayed intentions (prospective memory, PM). This is a surprising omission given the critical role PM plays in correctly implementing many important CHF self-care behaviors. The present study aimed to provide the first empirical assessment of PM function in people with CHF. The key dependent measure was a laboratory measure of PM that closely simulates PM tasks in daily life – Virtual Week. A group comparison design was used, with 30 CHF patients compared to 30 demographically matched controls. Background measures assessing executive functions, working memory, and verbal memory were also administered. The CHF group exhibited significant PM impairment, with difficulties generalizing across different types of PM tasks (event, time, regular, irregular). The CHF group also had moderate deficits on several of the background cognitive measures. Given the level of impairment remained consistent even on tasks that imposed minimal demands on memory for task content, CHF-related difficulties most likely reflects problems with the prospective component. However, exploratory analyses suggest that difficulties with retrospective memory and global cognition (but not executive control), also contribute to the PM difficulties seen in this group. The implications of these data are discussed, and in particular, it is argued that problems with PM may help explain why patient engagement in CHF self-care behaviors is often poor.

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

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