Yesterday my sister took mom in because she just didn't look right. The doctor said she has symptoms suggestive of congestive heart failure so they will be looking into her heart and taking tests. He admitted her. When he was told she had dementia, he questioned it and said he believes most of her problems are coming from her heart. Could a heart problem mimic dementia?
Could the medication she was put on before for atrail fibrilations have caused her memory loss, her forgetfulness, her strange behavior, her confusion, her sleeping all the time...
Hopefully now we will get some answers. I always questioned as you well know by my posts why she went down so rapidly...one month mowing her lawn and several months later being totally dependant on others for her care.
It didn't make sense, it didn't add up.
At this point I don't know what is going on? she can still have dementia on top of her other problems, but what if she was wrongly diagnosed and wasn't getting the proper treatment all these months?
I better quit speculating and wait for the answers.
Dorri, I don't know if there is any connection between heart failure and dementia -- except that my Mom had both. And, after a really scary episode of heart failure during which she felt like she was drowning after water congested in her lungs, and after being put on 6 various heart drugs, she got really bad dementia after having been clear in her mind.
I do not know if it was the pills (I have always suspected this, perhaps wrongly) or the oxygen deprivation while her heart was unable to pump enough blood to her brain, or both, or her advanced age.
Do ask the doctor all kinds of questions. Wouldn't it be wonderful if ALL she has is congestive heart failure, which can be treated and improved with medications! Then you can go on with your life without the curse of Alzheimer's hanging over you. I pray that will be true.
If not, we are still here to hear you, listen, care and give a little advice if we can.
Thanks Martha. My mom collapsed in the beginning of Sept but it wasn't clear from what? They did run some tests and found that she didn't have any recent strokes, but did find that she had heart fibrillations (spelling) She was put on 4 new medications 2 of them are heart pills and also a blood thinner. Ever since that hospital incident she has never been the same..but whatever is happening is happening quickly as she is rapidly going downhill.
I suspected the medication many a time but no one would listen. Who knows maybe I'm wrong, maybe she does have dementia and heart problems at the same time? The only thing I know for sure mom is not the same person she was before.
The doctor did find fluid in her lungs yesterday. but she was tested recently and it wasn't there before?
Yes, it would be nice if all of this was reversible and we would get our mom back.
Dorri, I find your post interesting because Dad followed much the same pattern but it was in more gradual steps than your Mom. More than the meds, I have connected it to the heart episodes themselves. At the moment his is labeled with Vascular Dementia and as the doctor explained to me, with every heart episode there are other vascular problems that we may or may not see. If the blood is not flowing through the heart then it is not flowing through the brain. Just last week we did an oxygen level on dad when he was walking and found out that his oxygen level drops significantly even slowly walking in the hall a short distance. She looked at me and said.... oxygen drops like that do effect the brain and that would explain his worsening behavior when he became aggitated or over exerted.
He had his first heart attack in 77. He seemed to come through that find. He had a second in 86 and 5 bypasses. I think that is when I started seeing the change. He had stints put in his legs in the late 90's and I really saw a difference then. After that was when he was misdiagnosed with ALZ. He had another episode in the early 2000's that he had to have a heart stint and there was a definite decline at that point. Just before Christmas he had an episode with AFib.... and you all know from my post the worstening of his symptoms since then.
I also have a best friend who's step father is going through the same thing. He was fine until after his heart bypass and now he is almost as confused as Dad was. Perhaps we have made great advancement in heart care but not in the related issues of brain function as related to vascular events.
Dad was eventually taken off all of his heart meds but Plavix. That didn't improve his condition at all. It was the AFib episode when he was put back on the digoxin. Is his current set back due to the AFib or the digoxin.... I don't know. Or is it just a result of oxygen deprivation to the brain? I am not sure we will ever know...
I've been told that A/fibs can cause the heart to throw clots so the risk of stroke is greater, but it's interesting that some of the affects of A/fibs are similar to dementia.. confusion, tiredness, weakness. lethargy etc.
Along with all her dementia symptoms, mom sleeps all the time, she dozes wherever she is sitting no matter where she is. After her collapse in Sept she did have a CT scan but it didn't show any recent strokes, she did have a mini stroke in the past.
She wasn't the same after she got out of the hospital, but has gotten much worse since then, so we were wondering if the A/Fibs caused clots to form which may have resulted in more mini strokes...hopefully they will give her another CT scan to rule that out.
Mom had 7 admissions into the hospital for CHF/Afib last year. After each admission it was very obvious that she came home more confused and agitiated then she was before. I am convinced each of these episodes with the CHF has caused her to excel to another level with her dementia. I am sure it has to do with the lack of oyzygen getting to the brain. She is on Toprol and asprin for the heart. They had to take her off the coumadin blood thinner because she had a massive bleed out and almost died from it. It is so hard they have all these medicines to keep a person going, yet they are unable to find a way to keep the brain healthy.
Polina, you and Deb are so right, they can do so much for the heart now a days yet little for the brain. Yes, it is kind of sad that people live much longer these days because of medical advancement, yet it doesn't necessarily mean that prolonged life will have much quality to it.
Your mother and Deb's dad and others have been through so much. Deb you mention they took your dad off all meds except plavix and there was no improvement. I was giving this same thought wondering if they would take mom off her new medications if it would bring her back, but that may be wishful thinking. Isn't there a temporary and reversible dementia brought on by some medications?
How do we know for sure, some of those meds come with pretty powerful side effects, and it's odd that some of the heart drugs cause memory loss, forgetfulness, confusion, weakness, agitation? Why is it that doctors often ignore these side effects and instead of taking a patient off it, will often prescribe more drugs to take care of the side effect.
The irregular heart beat caused by AFib will cause clots to be thrown. That is why they recommend they be on blood thinners but we had to take Dad off of them because of his fall risk and the excessive bleeding when he did fall. His skin is extremely fragile and any bump turns into a major bleed.
No, taking him off all meds made no difference in his condition. Yes, there are meds that cause dementia type symptoms and the only way to know if it is the med is to take them off the meds. Convincing a doctor to do this is nearly impossible because they are sure the meds are essential. Yep, the medicate the side effects of meds and the next thing you know they are on a long list of meds. You have to wonder!!
But I am with Pauline. I think it is the decreased oxygen to the brain whether it be because of strokes of insufficient blood flow. No matter what we have done, Dad gets worse with each new episode and doesn't get better even when his med regiment is changed. Dad is 88. It is amazing to think that he had his first heart attack at age 57... I will turn 57 in March! Scary thought...
I was thinking the same thing Deb my Mom's mother died of a heart problems at 52. My mom's medical conditions began in her mid 50's. I am 54 and hope I continue to stay healthy. I am so lucky to have my health. It makes me sad to think my mom's mom who I never got to meet died soooo young. It has been a long road of medical issues for my mom now too. She will be 80 in May. Hope to have an 80th birthday party for her.
I agree with not taking off the meds. Some times I think maybe she needs to
have her meds all revamped. I just know the list of meds continue to grow. She just got two more added to the list one for her diarrhea and one anxiety.
Modern medicine like you said dorri is a wonderful thing for the body but not so good yet for the brain. That part has some catching up to do!!!
Thanks, I know, I sometimes think aloud and grasp at straws. Thinking this over I questioned the meds because that is when she first changed, but I have to reason that these meds were started because she had a problem, she collapsed and was found unconscious, it makes perfect sense that she was deprived from oxygen during this collapse. When my sister found her, she said her facial appearance looked like she had a stroke. They tested, it wasn't a stroke. She came to in the ambulance and was hospitalized for 2 weeks. They found the atrial/fibs and when we questioned why she was being forgetful and confused the doctor said she could have the beginning of dementia but later asked, if dementia is a slowly progressive disease, then why has she gone down rapidly in such a short time. He had no answers.
I also bring to mind that mom was complaining about several falls over the last 2 years, nothing major, we never seen her fall, she would tell us she fell here and there and we kind of brushed it off. Maybe the falls she was having was from the lack of oxygen due to the A/fibs. I have to wonder everytime her brain is deprived off oxygen if it is permanently killing off some brain cells. Could that be why mom and your dad are getting worse with each episode. Once a brain cell is gone..it's gone or is it?
I want to thank you all for your kind support. I don't know how I would handle all of this without you all?
Mom was tested for blood clots yesterday. That test came back okay. Today she is having an ecko on her heart. Will fill you in when I know something more. Thanks again.
I've been reading this thread with great interest. My sisters and I talk about all of the meds Mom is on and how can I convince the Dr. to just stop some of them? I'm the one that deals with the Drs.
The answer is we can't. I have sat in his office and gone over every single med and ask him "why does she have to have this one? Can I take it away"? No, no and no. She must have that med to survive. The side effects are unbelieaveable. I truly don't know right now if some of Moms forgetfulness is dementia or the meds. I have told you all before that Mom is not in good health. She hasn't been for about 20 years. She has CHF, COPD, High blood presure, crohns disease, terrible arthritis, thyroid disease and she is 82 years old. Now all of these conditions require at least two or three meds to keep her going !!!! She has had 5 major surgeries during this time and 6 minor ones. If a surgery can be minor. All the while being "put under". Countless stays at the hospital for illness like pneumonia, bowel blockage, dehydration. Each time she came back from them a little less herself. She lived by herself and made her own decisions. Anyway, sorry I'm rambling.... So now I feel sometimes I am poisoning her. Allowing all of these meds to be given to her. But at this point I would be killing her if I stop them..... according to all of the Drs. Oh yes and blood clots so massive that they almost killed her twice.
We must be so careful. One little tweak the wrong way in her meds and she's very sick. No more surgeries for my Mom. Well, I had to let them remove a toe. But she was put under for just about 10 minutes and breathed on her own. That was the time she called me after she was completely healed and ask me, "OK. (long pause) My middle toe is gone and I have no idea what happened to it !!!!! Can you fill me in"? Poor little Mom. But she took it well. She says she must have been in LaLa land at the time.
I'm at a loss as what to do. I guess keep going like we are. No one seems to have an answer for me.
Thank you for listening to me rant today.
Love to all, Chris
Chris when it comes to a matter of life and death, there is no option they have to be on medication. However, I think a good doctor would work with their patient to find a suitable and tolerable replacement if a drug is giving a person trouble.
I see your mom has more than one immune related condition, and I see you listed arthritis and crohn's disease as well, poor her. I have crohn's disease and know that can be very painful, especially the obstructions.
Hoping everthing will work out.
My prayers are with your mom and you as well.
Sometimes we really have to question ourselves about what we do to our loved ones, don't we!
One thing not yet mentioned in this thread is the fact that any dementia seems to excell after any "happening" in the body....even a little head-cold can cause the disease to accelorate. It's just so hard to watch our loved ones suffer!
I was diagnosed with Atrial Fib. about 5 yrs ago...and also had a heart cath. It's actually quite common...and is a different diagnosis than conjestive heart failure. It involves the electrical impulses in the heart, and fatalities related to it are very rare. I'm on 2 different heart meds...and also Forteo shots for severe osteoporosis that can actually cause A.Fib!
The Dr. attributed the heart challenges to "stress"...........interesting! I think we often are trying so hard to do everything we can for our loved ones that we forget WE are supposed to stay healthy!
I think this thread has brought up some great questions...and made us all think about what this disease brings along with it to both our loved ones and ourselves. So many doctors are still unwilling to actually sit down and listen to our concerns and questions...and so easily perscribe whatever "popular" drug is on the market! Good for all of you for questioning!......Pam
Last edited by petal*pusher; 01-30-2009 at 06:24 PM.