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A heart-brain connection

Jan. 17, 2017, 8:00 AM

Cognitive and attention deficits observed in children following surgery before age 5 to repair congenital heart defects likely will persist into their teens and young adulthood, Lori Jordan, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues report.

The researchers measured cognitive function, intelligence and attentiveness in 18 young people, ages 11 to 22, who had surgery to correct tetralogy of Fallot and transposition of the great arteries. They were compared to 18 healthy siblings in the same age group and to established norms.

Those with heart defects performed significantly lower than siblings on full scale IQ and processing speed, significantly lower than norms on perceptual reasoning, and they exhibited more attention problems than siblings or norms, the researchers report in the current issue of the journal Child Neuropsychology.

Future research should examine the potential efficacy of cognitive remediation programs for children with congenital heart disease, as growing numbers are living into adulthood thanks to advances in surgical and medical care, the scientists concluded.

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