Does Heart Valve Surgery Affect Cognition in Older Adults?

Contributing Editor

An older adult’s ability to think, remember, and make decisions can be diminished in the first month following heart valve surgery, though most patients appear to return to their pre-surgery levels of cognitive ability after six months, report researchers who reviewed 12 studies that included hundreds of people who had the procedure.

People 65 and older make up the largest group who need open heart surgery to repair damaged heart valves. In their study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in October 2018, researchers found those having aortic valve surgery are at greater risk of cognitive decline within the first month post-surgery than people having mitral valve surgery.

Cognitive health for both groups had mostly returned to normal within half a year. And one-third of people in the studies included in the review even showed small improvements in cognitive ability six months after surgery. Researchers called for additional research into long-term outcomes for heart valve surgery patients.

Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society