Am I Getting Stupider?

Another fun thing to live with when you have heart disease… You actually show signs of cognitive decline. Broken down, you gradually get dumber and dumber following open heart surgery…

There is a lot of theory out there about a phenomenon known as “Pump Head”.  From an article published in Scientific American… “A 2001 study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that of 261 heart disease patients who had been kept alive during surgery with the pump, 42 percent showed cognitive decline five years after the surgery, even after adjusting for age. “Interventions to prevent or reduce short- and long-term cognitive decline after cardiac surgery are warranted,” the authors, led by Mark Newman of the Duke University Medical Center, concluded. And a study published in 2009 in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, led by James Slater, a cardio thoracic surgeon at the Mid-Atlantic Surgical Associates in Morristown, N.J., supported the previous findings, showing that lowered levels of oxygen in blood flowing to the brain during surgery did correlate to increased risk of suffering from the mental impairment dubbed “pump head”.

The article goes on to seemingly disprove the theory of “Pump Head” as follows…”Ola Selnes, a professor of neurology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and his colleagues set out to find. Their six-year study—published in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery—examined 326 people who had coronary disease and 69 who didn’t. Of those who did had the disease: 152 had undergone the CABG procedure using the pump; 75 had off-pump surgery; and 99 had nonsurgical treatment. After testing subjects at several intervals starting before surgery and ending six years later, they found that those with healthy hearts retained their levels of cognitive functioning after the operation, whereas the patients with coronary disease experienced about the same amount of cognitive decline—regardless of the sort of treatment they had.

In short, having heart disease makes you gradually stupider due to a lack of oxygen rich blood supply to the brain because of reduced heart function.

Personally, I cannot concentrate very well. I am not nearly as articulate as I once was. I used to actually be a pretty decent writer. Now, I get to a point in a blog and I am just done. I can’t remember my pills. I have to really focus to be able to perform the basic functions of my job.

I was once a talented telecommunications technician. I have designed advanced fiber optic networks. I have troubleshot data loss on trans-pacific fiber equipment. The other day, I could not figure out the most basic electrical circuit to save my life. I had to have a friend come and help me with something I was once the master of.

Again folks, go see the Doctor and get checked out. Feeling like you are gradually getting dumber every day is no fun at all.


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