Cognitive and psycholologic considerations in pediatric heart failure

Seth A. Hollander, Edward Callus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because children with heart failure live longer both before and after cardiac transplantation, there is renewed focus on the quality and preservation of their intellectual functioning and psychosocial health. Children with chronic heart failure are at risk for delays in both cognitive development and psychologic functioning, though the extent and permanence of impairment is not well understood. Children with medically managed heart failure have been shown to be at increased risk for anxiety and depression, with a prevalence of emotional disorders similar to that of other children with congenital heart disease. The use of ventricular assist devices as a bridge to transplantation offers both risks and benefits for the preservation of intellectual and emotional function, with an increased risk for ischemic injury to the brain, but offers the advantage of allowing for cognitive stimulation and improved social interactions. A new population of children with heart failure, those outfitted with permanent ventricular assist devices in lieu of cardiac transplantation, may represent a particular risk group regarding social and cognitive function, but as of yet this is not well studied. Early intervention and school accommodations are recommended for those with cognitive, social, or emotional deficits, and brain imaging should be considered for those with persistent difficulties. Whenever possible, patients should be referred to psychologists and developmental specialists with experience in treating this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-785
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cardiac Failure
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2014


  • cognitive
  • Heart failure
  • psychologic
  • transplantation
  • ventricular assist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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