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Objectives Cognitive deficits are common in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF), but no study has investigated whether these deficits extend to social cognition. The present study provided the first empirical assessment of emotion recognition and theory of mind (ToM) in patients with CHF. In addition, it assessed whether each of these social cognitive constructs was associated with more general cognitive impairment. Methods A group comparison design was used, with 31 CHF patients compared to 38 demographically matched controls. The Ekman Faces test was used to assess emotion recognition, and the Mind in the Eyes test to measure ToM. Measures assessing global cognition, executive functions, and verbal memory were also administered. Results There were no differences between groups on emotion recognition or ToM. The CHF group’s performance was poorer on some executive measures, but memory was relatively preserved. In the CHF group, both emotion recognition performance and ToM ability correlated moderately with global cognition (r = .38, p = .034; r = .49, p = .005, respectively), but not with executive function or verbal memory. Conclusion CHF patients with lower cognitive ability were more likely to have difficulty recognizing emotions and inferring the mental states of others. Clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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Psychology Commons