Protected: Executive Dysfunction in Patients Undergoing Chronic Haemodialysis Treatment: A Possible Symptom of Vascular Dementia


Introduction. Patients undergoing chronic haemodialysis (HD) treatment have an 8-10 times higher risk of experiencing stroke events and developing cognitive impairment. The high vascular stress they are subjected to may be the basis for the development of vascular dementia (VaD).
Objective. The aim of the study is to investigate the executive functions, typically impaired in VaD, of patients undergoing chronic haemodialysis treatment.
Method. HD patients were recruited from the U.O.C. of Nephrology and Dialysis (ASP Ragusa). Risk factors for VaD were collected and then the Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB) was administered.
Results. 103 HD patients were included (males = 63%, age 66 ± 14 years). Risk factors for VaD included a high percentage of patients with anaemia (93%), hypertension (64%) and coronary artery disease (68%).  The cognitive data obtained via FAB show a percentage of 55% deficit scores. All risk factors found a significant association with cognitive scores. Anemia, hypertension, intradialytic hypotension, coronary artery disease, and homocysteine are negative predictors of executive function integrity.
Conclusions. More than half of the patients had deficit scores on the FAB. Reduced cognitive flexibility, high sensitivity to interference, poor inhibitory control and impaired motor programming with the dominant hand were evident. In conclusion, a marked impairment of the executive functions, generally located in the frontal lobes of the brain, was detected in the HD patient, which could be a symptom of a dementia of a vascular nature.

Keywords: hemodialysis, cognitive, impairment, vascular, dementia

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