Table of Contents
Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology
Volume 2012, Article ID 392490, 6 pages
Clinical Study

Reduced Heart Rate Recovery Is Associated with Poorer Cognitive Function in Older Adults with Cardiovascular Disease

1Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA
2Center for Cardiopulmonary Researsh, Summa Health System, Akron, OH 44398, USA
3University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
4Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
5School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

Received 21 April 2012; Revised 27 July 2012; Accepted 31 July 2012

Academic Editor: Janusz K. Rybakowski

Copyright © 2012 Therese A. Keary et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) in older adults has been associated with varying degrees of cognitive dysfunction. Several mechanisms may explain this association, including impaired cardiovascular reactivity to autonomic nervous system (ANS) signaling. Reduced heart rate recovery following a stress test may be considered an indication of impaired ANS function (i.e., reduced parasympathetic activity). Participants were 47 older adults (53–83 years) who underwent a treadmill stress test and were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery upon entry to phase II cardiac rehabilitation. Reduced parasympathetic activity was associated with impaired cognitive performance on a measure of global cognitive function and on tasks of speeded executive function and confrontation naming. These relationships suggest that changes in autonomic function may be mechanistically related to the impaired cognitive function prevalent in CVD patients.