Screening for Cognitive Deficits Using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Tool in Outpatients ≥65 Years of Age With Heart Failure
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There is strong evidence to suggest that heart failure (HF) is an independent risk factor for cognitive impairment (CI). The combination of CI and HF is associated with increased mortality, repeat hospitalization, and poor quality of life. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the presence of CI in older patients with HF using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), a brief screening instrument for CI. We conducted a cross-sectional descriptive study using the MoCA in outpatients with HF who were ≥ 65 years of age. Forty-four patients (mean ± SD 76 ± 6.6 years of age) completed the MoCA. More than 70% of patients scored below the MoCA cutoff score of 26, suggesting the presence of CI. However, 91% of patients with New York Heart Association classes III to IV versus 52% of patients with classes I to II had a MoCA score < 26 (p = 0.004). Patients with a recent hospital admission were more likely to have a MoCA score < 26 versus patients without a recent hospital admission (89% vs 62%, respectively, p < 0.045). Cognitive domain subscores showing significant differences (p <0.01) were short-term memory, visuospatial function, executive function, and language. In conclusion, this study sample represented a group of older patients with HF and no suspected or documented CI, but screening with the MoCA detected CI in >70% of the sample. The presence of CI was significantly more common in patients with advanced HF symptoms or a recent hospitalization. Future studies need to determine if the MoCA can identify the presence of CI that is predictive of adverse clinical outcomes in the HF population.
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