MONDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Older patients with more severe heart failure are at increased risk for verbal memory impairment, a new study finds.

Verbal memory is the ability to remember words. This study compared heart failure severity and cognitive function -- including verbal and visual memory -- among patients being evaluated for potential heart transplantation.

Heart failure severity was assessed using left ventricular ejection fraction (EF), a measure of how well the heart's left ventricle pumps with each contraction.

Among 207 patients, the researchers found that 38 had an EF of 30 percent or more, and 169 had an EF of less than 30 percent. In patients younger than 63, there were no memory problems. But older patients with an EF of less than 30 percent did have memory problems.

Further analysis showed that the strongest association between low EF and memory problems was in delayed verbal recall and recognition.

The study appears in the August issue of the Archives of Neurology.

"In summary, an interaction exists between the age and EF such that older patients with low EF had significantly reduced memory, particularly verbal delayed recall and recognition," Joanne R. Festa, from St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, wrote in a journal news release.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart failure.