A UCLA imaging study revealed significant tissue loss in theregions of heart-failure patients' brains that regulate the autonomicnervous system, interfering with the cardiovascular system's ability toswiftly adapt to changes in blood pressure and heart rate. The damagelies in the same brain areas showing changes in people suffering majordepression, which may explain why many heart-failure patients are oftendepressed.
The brain damage could dramatically affect heart-failurepatients' ability to exercise and lowers their overall quality of life.Clinically, the findings emphasize the need for (1) cardiologists torecognize that heart-failure patients suffer from a brain injury, aswell as a heart injury, and (2) that drugs or other therapies must bedeveloped to cross the blood-brain barrier, prevent brain injury andboost brain function.
Authors of the study include Mary Woo, associate deanof research at the UCLA School of Nursing, and Ronald Harper, professorof neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
The research will appear in the August edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Cardiac Failure, Vol. 11, No. 6.
Grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Nursing Research supported the study.
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