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Comorbidities and Cognitive Functioning: Implications for Nursing Research and Practice

Vance, David; Larsen, Kirsten I.; Eagerton, Gregory; Wright, Mary A.

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing: August 2011 - Volume 43 - Issue 4 - p 215-224
doi: 10.1097/JNN.0b013e3182212a04

ABSTRACT Optimal cognitive functioning is necessary to successfully negotiate one's environment, yet medical conditions can interfere with brain health, thus negatively impacting cognitive functioning. Such comorbidities include hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and HIV, as well as others. The physiological properties of these comorbidities can reduce one's cognitive reserve and limit one's cognitive efficiency. This article provides an overview of a few common comorbidities known to affect cognitive functioning and addresses ways in which cognitive functioning may be ameliorated and protected or mitigated in lieu of cognitive declines in such clinical populations. Implications for nursing practice and research are posited.

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to David Vance, PhD, at He is an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL.

Kirsten I. Larsen, BSN MS RN, is a floor nurse at UAB Hospital, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL.

Gregory Eagerton, DNP RN NEABC, is the associate director for Patient/Nursing Service, Birmingham VA Medical Center, Birmingham, AL.

Mary A. Wright, PhD CRNP MSN, is an assistant professor at Family/Child Health and Caregiving, School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL.

© 2011 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses