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Bypass not to blame for heart patients' mental decline
Date:5/19/2008

ve each of the patients a battery of 15 different mental tests meant to examine cognitive functions including memory, motor speed, attention, and the ability to plan ahead. Then, at three months, one year, three years, and six years after treatment, the researchers gave the volunteers the same tests to see whether their cognitive function had changed.

When they compared the two groups results, the researchers found similar results. Both groups started out with comparable cognitive abilities, which improved slightly for about a year after treatment. However, over the next five years, most of the patients experienced a similar decline of cognitive function in almost every area tested, regardless of whether they had surgery or another treatment.

These results suggest that neither bypass surgery nor the pump itself causes cognitive decline, says McKhann. He says that the finding may help the stigma that prevents some doctors from recommending bypass surgery.

We dont think fear of mental changes should be a factor in deciding what kinds of treatments you have for your heart, he adds.

Since both groups of patients scored lower than healthy patients on similar cognitive tests in other studies, McKhann notes that he and other researchers believe that coronary artery disease is the culprit. However, he says, he and his colleagues dont believe that cognitive decline is an inevitable consequence of heart disease.

If we take a very aggressive approach to treating risk factors for heart disease, including keeping a handle on diabetes, blood pressure, and weight, patients may be able to avoid these cognitive problems, McKhann says.


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Contact: Christen Brownlee
cbrownlee@jhmi.edu
410-955-7832
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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