Heart failure with comorbid dementia: Association with clinical characteristics and outcomes

Michael S. Jensen, Irena Cenzer, Amy S. Kelley, Kenneth E. Covinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Heart failure (HF) and dementia both have profound effects on function and mortality in older persons. However, we have limited knowledge about the impact of co-occurring HF and dementia. Our goal was to understand how often persons with HF have dementia and the impact of their co-occurrence. Methods: Retrospective analysis of participants (age > 65) in the 2015 wave of the nationally representative Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) with linkage to Medicare claims. 912 participants with HF (45% older than 80, 51% women) using Medicare claims. We used the validated NHATS dementia algorithm to identify those with probable dementia. Outcomes of interest included the need for help with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) at baseline, functional decline, hospitalization over 1 year, and mortality over 2-years. Baseline functional status, functional decline, and hospitalization were compared using adjusted logistic regression, mortality was analyzed using adjusted Cox regression models adjusted for demographics, socio-economic status, baseline health, and baseline functional status. Results: 200 (21%) of the participants with HF also had dementia. For each I/ADL, patients with both HF and dementia were more likely to need help than those with HF without dementia. 71.8% of participants with HF and dementia needed help with medications versus 16.6% with HF without dementia (p < 0.001). Having HF and dementia was associated with an increased risk of requiring help with additional ADLs after one year (aOR = 2.69, 95% CI 1.53, 4.73). Participants with HF and dementia had an increased risk of being hospitalized within one year (aOR = 2.02 95% CI 1.16, 3.54), or dying within two years (aHR = 1.52 95% CI 1.03, 2.26). Conclusions: One-fifth of persons over age 65 with HF also have comorbid dementia. Co-occurring HF and dementia markedly increase functional impairment and subsequent ADL decline, hospitalization, and death. These results highlight the need for physician awareness for signs of dementia, and appropriate adjustments in the management of HF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3172-3178
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


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