Greater body mass index is associated with poorer cognitive functioning in male heart failure patients

Misty A.W. Hawkins, John Gunstad, Mary A. Dolansky, Joseph D. Redle, Richard Josephson, Shirley M. Moore, Joel W. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background Heart failure (HF) and obesity are associated with cognitive impairment. However, few studies have investigated the relationship between adiposity and cognitive functioning in HF for each sex, despite observed sex differences in HF prognosis. We tested the hypothesis that greater body mass index (BMI) would be associated with poorer cognitive functioning, especially in men, in sex-stratified analyses. Methods and Results Participants were 231 HF patients (34% female, 24% nonwhite, average age 68.7 ± 7.3 years). Height and weight were used to compute BMI. A neuropsychology battery tested global cognitive function, memory, attention, and executive function. Composites were created using averages of age-adjusted scaled scores. Regressions adjusting for demographic and medical factors were conducted. The sample was predominantly overweight/obese (76.2%). For men, greater BMI predicted poorer attention (ΔR2 = 0.03; β = -0.18; P =.01) and executive function (ΔR2 = 0.02; β = -0.13; P =.04); these effects were largely driven by men with severe obesity (BMI ≥40 kg/m2). BMI did not predict memory (P =.69) or global cognitive functioning (P =.08). In women, greater BMI was not associated with any cognitive variable (all P ≥.09). Discussion Higher BMI was associated with poorer attention and executive function in male HF patients, especially those with severe obesity. These patients may therefore have more difficulties with the HF treatment regimen and may have poorer outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cardiac Failure
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • executive function
  • gender differences
  • obesity


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