Post-cardiac arrest patients need frequent follow-ups with their physicians as they are at risk for cognitive impairment, according to a new study.

A high proportion of people who previously experienced cardiac arrests experienced cognitive problems and problems in mobility, researchers from Lund University, Sweden and Skane University Hospital wrote.

The study was a result of collaboration with four other European countries namely Denmark, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Italy.

“We didn’t believe there would be so many,” noted lead researcher Gisela Lilja, an occupational therapist at Skane University.

About 270 patients who all survived cardiac arrests took part in the study, with more than half admitting to having impaired memory, concentration difficulty, problem solving and restricted mobility within the least six month after cardiac arrest.

The patients also felt tired and depressed.

“In the study, when we also compared cardiac arrest patients with those who had suffered a heart attack, the control group, the cardiac arrest patients found it harder to return to their previous lives,” said researcher Lilja.

A sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and stops beating while heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, according to American Heart Association.

“In one of our previous studies we showed that the cardiac arrest survivors had particularly difficulty with a slower mental processing speed compared to the control subjects. Now, we have also observed that this particular difficulty does not help them in their return to working life,” said the lead author, and added that such patients may not be able to work for a continuous eight-hour work shift.

Lead author Lilja warned that some of these patients may think of the difficulty as normal or think that there is no support available.

“Doctors on cardiology wards should be on the lookout for cognitive problems among these patients, and ensure that they get help for these impairments where necessary. They must see these patients as both heart and brain patients,” she suggested.

In the Philippines, approximately half of all deaths from heart diseases could be sudden cardiac arrest, according to the Philippine Heart Association.

It can happen anytime, anywhere, to anybody even without history of heart disease, they noted. MIMS