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Keywords:

  • cognition;
  • executive functions;
  • heart failure;
  • instrumental activities of daily living

Aims and objectives

To examine the independent association between executive function with instrumental activities of daily living and health behaviours in older adults with heart failure.

Background

Executive function is an important contributor to functional independence as it consists of cognitive processes needed for decision-making, planning, organising and behavioural monitoring. Impairment in this domain is common in heart failure patients and associated with reduced performance of instrumental activities of daily living in many medical and neurological populations. However, the contribution of executive functions to functional independence and healthy lifestyle choices in heart failure patients has not been fully examined.

Design

Cross-sectional analyses.

Methods

One hundred and seventy-five heart failure patients completed a neuropsychological battery and echocardiogram. Participants also completed the Lawton–Brody Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale and reported current cigarette use.

Results

Hierarchical regressions revealed that reduced executive function was independently associated with worse instrumental activity of daily living performance with a specific association for decreased ability to manage medications. Partial correlations showed that executive dysfunction was associated with current cigarette use.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that executive dysfunction is associated with poorer functional independence and contributes to unhealthy behaviours in heart failure. Future studies should examine whether heart failure patients benefit from formal organisation schema (i.e. pill organisers) to maintain independence.

Relevance to clinical practice

Screening of executive function in heart failure patients may provide key insight into their ability to perform daily tasks, including the management of treatment recommendations.