Variability in the neuropsychological performance of patients with acute coronary syndrome
Introduction. There is a growing interest in the study of the relationship between heart disease, including acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and cognitive impairment, and although the factors mediating ACS and cognitive impairment are not well understood, the debate revolves around the role of the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF).
Aims. To determine the presence of cognitive impairment in patients with ACS and explore its association with various factors, including sociodemographic, medication use and performance on cardiac function tests (in particular LVEF).
Patients and methods. Sociodemographic, medical and neuropsychological variables were collected in 80 patients with ACS participating in a cardiac rehabilitation programme. Their scores on the neuropsychological battery were compared with normative population data to determine which subjects showed deficient performance. Regression analyses were conducted to determine which factors are associated with performance on neuropsychological tests.
Results. Compared to their normative group, 37.5% of the subjects had low scores on three or more neuropsychological tests. Age, low educational level and low LVEF explained up to 51% of the variability in neuropsychological test results.
Conclusions. Patients with ACS are more likely to have impaired cognitive functions, such as attention, memory and executive functions, along with a slower information processing speed. An LVEF below 50% could be a major explanatory factor for such cognitive impairment.
Key words. Acute coronary syndrome. Anxiety. Cognitive impairment. Left ventricle ejection fraction. Sociodemographic factors. Vascular risk factors.