Walking Ability Before Heart Surgery Tied to Brain Function Afterward

Walking Ability Before Heart Surgery Tied to Brain Function Afterward

New research conducted in Japan shows that elderly patients recovering from cardiac surgery are less likely to experience cognitive decline if they can stay physically active following surgery. The study looked at patients who had undergone non-emergency cardiac procedures. Their ability to walk was measured both before and after the surgeries, along with their cognitive function by looking at their concentration, attention, and memory levels. Patients who could walk further, effectively those patients who retained or maintained a faster walking speed, experienced less cognitive decline as or after they recovered from their surgical procedures.

A little over a quarter of the patients showed a reduction in their cognitive levels. Those whose physical abilities, their walking speed, had declined were more likely to experience cognitive issues. The study’s data showed that for every fifty meters a patient could walk within the six minute tracking period there was a nearly twenty percent reduction in their chance of experiencing cognitive decline.

Doctors have long known there are cognitive risks for patients following surgical procedures, but the Japanese study is the first to concretely measure not just the risk, but also tie it to a method that can reduce it. Patients remain at risk as long as five years following surgery, but if physical activity levels can be maintained that risk is markedly lower.

Key Points:

  • 1A study attempting to tie mobility to post-operative recuperation from heart surgery used a pool of 181 patients, all undergoing non-emergency heart surgery at Nagoya University Hospital.
  • 2The study required that all participants take tests in memory, concentration and attention prior to surgery and then again two weeks post-surgery.
  • 3The other form of testing all participants had to undergo, before and after surgery, consisted in seeing how far each surgery candidate could walk in six minutes.


Older adults who are faster on their feet may be less likely to suffer cognitive problems after heart surgery than patients who have difficulty walking, a Japanese study suggests.

See the original at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-heartsurgery/walking-ability-before-heart-surgery-tied-to-brain-function-afterward-idUSKBN1JG3FY?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews

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