Memory damage due to heart attack

Memory damage due to heart attack


Heart attack is the necrosis of a tissue or organ that does not receive an adequate supply of blood and oxygen from the arterial circulation.

The term myocardial infarction refers to the necrosis of a part of the heart muscle following the obstruction of one of the coronary arteries responsible for its spraying.

Heart and brain health are endangered by the same factors, hereditary or modifiable: this is why those who survived a myocardial infarction or myocardial infarction can also experience memory loss and development of dementia.

Swedish researchers from Lund University talk about it in a study just published in the journals Circulation and JAMA Neurology.

In previous research the same team had already highlighted the worsening of some cognitive functions, such as memory and attention, after cardiac arrest and had traced the cognitive decline to the temporary lack of oxygen in the brain (hypoxia) that occurs when the heart stops to beat.

The explanation, however, seems to be more complex and include some cardiac risk factors that would also have an important impact on brain health. To prove this, the researchers involved 950 cardiac arrest patients between Europe and Australia and subjected them to a series of cognitive checks and tests six months after the dramatic event. Of these, 300 participants underwent more detailed tests whose outcomes were compared to a control group consisting of patients previously affected by myocardial infarction.



We thought we would find a clear difference between the two groups because myocardial infarction patients were not exposed to oxygen deficiency in the brain. However, the signs of moderate brain damage were of the same magnitude as those found in patients after cardiac arrest, “explains Tobias Cronberg, an associate professor at Lund University. The explanation, hypothesizes the Swedish team, is to be found among the risk factors for the heart and which could also play a role in cognitive decline.

Previous studies, conducted by the same research team, had shown that diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol also increase the risk of dementia, not just that of cardiovascular disease. This information could be useful to define strategies to be implemented after heart attack or cardiac arrest, so that ex-patients adopt a lifestyle that mitigates the impact of risk factors common to heart and memory.

What techniques are used for rehabilitation?

After a myocardial infarction, a cardiological rehabilitation period may be indicated. The same can be done in hospital or on an outpatient basis, depending on the severity of the heart attack itself, the patient’s ability to recover his physical activity and any associated extracardiac diseases.

The main purposes of rehabilitation are those of a gradual recovery of individual exercise capacity, of an adjustment of therapy that comes as close as possible to what will be taken by the patient in extra-hospital life and, finally, of lifestyle modification.

7 thoughts on “Memory damage due to heart attack

  1. Kennedy Cleveland says:

    Half of all patients who survive a cardiac arrest experience problems in cognitive functions, such as memory and attention.

  2. Abiha Guy says:

    Memory loss can be transient (with gradual return to normal function, as occurs after mild traumatic injuries), stable (found in the context of serious morbid events; e.g. encephalitis or cardiac arrest) or progressive (e.g. dementia on a degenerative basis like Alzheimer’s disease).

  3. Johnnie Lugo says:

    A person often no longer feels the same as before; those who return home after a heart attack must reintegrate into the family by reviewing relationships with their spouse and children, but also reintegrate into the world of work and society. I speak from personal experience after observing my father for more than a year after suffering a heart attack has turned in spite of himself into a quite different person.

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