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Cardiology Research and Practice
Volume 2014, Article ID 157508, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/157508
Review Article

Aerobic Exercise as an Adjunct Therapy for Improving Cognitive Function in Heart Failure

Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

Received 31 December 2013; Revised 12 May 2014; Accepted 18 May 2014; Published 3 July 2014

Academic Editor: Vicky A. Cameron

Copyright © 2014 Rebecca A. Gary and Kathryn Brunn. 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.

Abstract

Persons with heart failure (HF) are typically older and are at a much higher risk for developing cognitive impairment (CI) than persons without HF. Increasingly, CI is recognized as a significant, independent predictor of worse clinical outcomes, more frequent hospital readmissions, and higher mortality rates in persons with HF. CI can have devastating effects on ability to carry out HF effective self-care behaviors. If CI occurs, however, there are currently no evidence based guidelines on how to manage or improve cognitive function in this population. Improvement in cognition has been reported following some therapies in HF and is thought to be the consequence of enhanced cerebral perfusion and oxygenation, suggesting that CI may be amenable to intervention. Because there is substantial neuronal loss with dementia and no effective restorative therapies, interventions that slow, reverse, or prevent cognitive decline are essential. Aerobic exercise is documented to increase cerebral perfusion and oxygenation by promoting neuroplasticity and neurogenesis and, in turn, cognitive functioning. Few studies have examined exercise as a potential adjunct therapy for attenuating or alleviating cognitive decline in HF. In this review, the potential benefit of aerobic exercise on cognitive functioning in HF is presented along with future research directions.