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    New Heart Failure Risks: Fractures and Memory Problems

    Studies Highlight 2 New Complications of Heart Failure

    Be Aware of Patients' Limitations continued...

    In the second study, Australian researchers ran mental tests on 35 people with heart failure, 56 people with another type of heart disease, and 64 healthy people. They also used magnetic resonance imaging scans to look at differences in the volume of grey matter in the brain.

    People with heart failure had more problems with their immediate and long-term memory and had slower reaction speed than their healthy counterparts. The brain changes occurred in areas of the brain linked to demanding mental tasks and emotional processing.

    Exactly why this occurs is not yet understood, the study authors report.

    Heart Failure and Fracture Risk

    In the fracture study, researchers looked at more than 45,000 adults undergoing bone mineral density testing for the first time and followed them for up to 10 years. Of these adults, 1,841 had recent-onset heart failure in the past two years. These individuals had an associated 30% increase in major fractures compared to people without heart failure. The fact that they had recently been diagnosed with heart failure suggests the increased risk for fractures may develop even before the heart failure.

    “This is the first study to convincingly show people with heart failure have more osteoporosis than the general population,” says researcher Sumit R. Majumdar, MD, MPH. He is a professor of medicine at theUniversity of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

    Exactly why this occurs is not known, but there are many possibilities. Heart failure and osteoporosis share certain risk factors such as older age, smoking, and diabetes. People with heart failure also tend to be frail, which places them at greater risk for falls.

    Knowledge is power, Majumdar says. The best thing to do is go over all medications with your doctor and discuss what you can do to protect your bones. This may include screening tests, taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, and taking medication if you have already sustained a fracture.

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