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Microvascular Dysfunction as a Possible Link Between Heart Failure and Cognitive Dysfunction.

Circulation. Heart Failure 2023 September 27
BACKGROUND: Microvascular function in the brain and heart may play an important role in the course of patients with heart failure (HF), but its relationship with ventricular and cognitive function is not well understood. We hypothesized that microvascular function in HF is closely related to both, cardiac and cognitive function.

METHODS: In healthy controls and symptomatic patients with HF (New York Heart Association functional class II or III), we used oxygenation-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging during a standardized breathing maneuver to determine the cerebral oxygenation reserve and the myocardial oxygenation reserve (MORE) as markers for microvascular function. A stepwise multivariable linear regression was performed to determine the variables that best predict changes in cerebral oxygenation reserve and MORE. We also measured cognitive function using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test.

RESULTS: Twenty patients with HF (age 64.4±8.3 years; 50% female sex), and 21 healthy controls (age 55.0±5.1 years; 62% female sex) were included in the analysis. In patients with HF, cerebral oxygenation reserve and MORE were lower than in healthy controls (MORE, -0.1±3.3 versus 5.0±4.2, cerebral oxygenation reserve: 0.43±0.47 versus 1.21±0.60, respectively) as were Montreal Cognitive Assessment score results (HF, 23.9±3.7; healthy, 27.8±1.5; P =0.002). The Montreal Cognitive Assessment score in patients was correlated with cardiac output ( r =0.55, P =0.011) and MORE ( r =0.46, P =0.040). In addition to the presence of HF, significant predictors of cerebral and myocardial oxygenation reserve were cardiac output and end-diastolic volume, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that heart failure is an independent predictor of coronary and cerebral microvascular dysfunction as defined by a reduced response to a vasodilatory breathing maneuver. This impaired response was associated with reduced cognitive function.

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