cognitive function, gender characteristics, heart failure



  1. Rochette, Amber D. BA
  2. Spitznagel, Mary Beth PhD
  3. Sweet, Lawrence H. PhD
  4. Cohen, Ronald A. PhD
  5. Josephson, Richard PhD
  6. Hughes, Joel PhD
  7. Gunstad, John PhD


Background: Cognitive deficits are found in up to 73% of persons with heart failure (HF) and are associated with increased mortality and other poor clinical outcomes. It is known that women have better memory test performance than men do in healthy samples, but gender differences in cognitive performance in the context of HF are not well understood and may have important clinical implications.


Objective: The objective of this study was to examine possible gender differences in cognitive function in a sample of individuals with HF (98.9% New York Heart Association class II and III).


Methods: A total of 183 adults with HF (116 men and 67 women) completed a neuropsychological test battery as part of a larger project. Measures were chosen to assess functioning in attention/executive function and memory.


Results: After controlling for demographic and medical factors, multivariate analysis of covariance revealed that men and women differed on memory test performance ([lambda] = 0.90, F4, 169 = 4.76, P = .001). Post hoc comparisons revealed that women performed better on California Verbal Learning Test Learning, Short Recall, and Delayed Recall. No differences emerged on tests of attention/executive function ([lambda] = 0.97, F5, 168 = 0.96, P = .44).


Conclusions: In this sample of persons with HF, men exhibited poorer performance on memory measures than women did. Future studies are needed to determine the underlying mechanisms for this pattern and its possible influence on daily function.