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We like to think of our heads and our hearts as opposites. Our heads are for logic and reason while our hearts are how we feel and love.
While this has never exactly been a scientific truth, when it comes to heart failure the picture is even more complex.
In addition to feeling down or anxious about a heart failure diagnosis (which is a very natural and normal reaction), increasingly, changes in mood, memory function, and even decision making are being recognized as direct side effects of heart failure. This is known as cognitive impairment.i
We know that heart failure can reduce the rate at which oxygen-rich blood is pumped around the body.ii This, in turn, can reduce the supply of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs, which can impact their ability to function normally – including the brain. This means that people with heart failure may experience a range of symptoms related to decreased blood flow to the brain, including dizziness, low mood, and reduction in short-term memory.i
While this sounds scary, it is important to remember that there are things that you can do to help keep your heart and mind happy.
Learn more about managing life with heart failure >
There are many ways you can manage your condition.
"My immediate reaction to the diagnosis was to fight, to not give in. Not to let the illness win, but to beat it."
It’s important to take time to talk to your doctor about your heart failure. Click here for some tips.
(i) Efthimios Dardiotis, Gregory Giamouzis, Dimos Mastrogiannis, et al. Cognitive Impairment in Heart Failure, Cardiology Research and Practice, 2012 (2012)(ii) Harrison’s ‘Principles of Internal Medicine’, Seventeenth Edition pages 1442 - 1455(iii) Raichle, Marchus E and Gusnard, Debra A, Appraising the brain’s energy budget, PNAS 2002;99 (16) 10237 – 10239