New grant funds group study aimed at examining memory, heart problems

Morgan Jaborsky

Kent State, Case Western collaborate in research

A $2.7 million grant through the National Institutes of Health will fund a collaborative study between Kent State University and the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve.

The study will examine how memory problems may affect the way in which patients with heart failure manage their illness.

Psychology professor John Gunstad says heart disease can affect memory and decision-making processes that are vital to patient care.

For instance, a heart patient may have a complicated medication schedule. If the disease impaired the patient’s memory, they could forget the medication or take it incorrectly, further worsening their condition.

“We want to find out: What are the causes for people not following their doctor’s orders correctly?” Gunstad said.

He explained the study could have significant impact on patient care in the future, enabling doctors and patients to find better ways to manage heart disease.

It could provide a clearer understanding of how common memory impairment is in heart patients. The study could also determine how closely linked memory issues are to problems in everyday functioning.

“The goal is to manage [heart disease] so well that they can stay out of the hospital and have a good quality of life,” psychology professor John Hughes said.

Both graduate and undergraduate Kent State students will play a key role in the study by participating in research, troubleshooting, and data analysis.

“Right now, we have hundreds of students who participate as researchers,” said Hughes.

The four-year study will follow 400 patients ranging in age from 50-85. The study will be conducted in partnership with cardiologists, nurses and other medical personnel at Summa Health System in Akron, and University Hospitals in Cleveland.

Contact news correspondent Morgan Jaborsky at [email protected].