Research Article  |   February 2015
Reduced Physical Fitness in Patients With Heart Failure as a Possible Risk Factor for Impaired Driving Performance
Author Affiliations
  • Michael L. Alosco, MA, is Doctoral Student, Department of Psychological Sciences, Kent State University, Kent, OH
  • Marc S. Penn, MD, PhD, is Director of Research, Summa Cardiovascular Institute, Akron, OH
  • Mary Beth Spitznagel, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH
  • Mary Jo Cleveland, PhD, is Geriatrician, Center for Senior Health, Summa Health System, Akron, OH
  • Brian R. Ott, MD, is Director, The Alzheimer’s Disease & Memory Disorders Center, Rhode Island Hospital, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI
  • John Gunstad, PhD, is Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH; jgunstad@kent.edu
Article Information
Cardiopulmonary Conditions / Community Mobility and Driving / Health and Wellness / Occupation, Participation, and Health
Research Article   |   February 2015
Reduced Physical Fitness in Patients With Heart Failure as a Possible Risk Factor for Impaired Driving Performance
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 2015, Vol. 69, 6902260010p1-6902260010p8. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.013573
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 2015, Vol. 69, 6902260010p1-6902260010p8. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.013573
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. Reduced physical fitness secondary to heart failure (HF) may contribute to poor driving; reduced physical fitness is a known correlate of cognitive impairment and has been associated with decreased independence in driving. No study has examined the associations among physical fitness, cognition, and driving performance in people with HF.

METHOD. Eighteen people with HF completed a physical fitness assessment, a cognitive test battery, and a validated driving simulator scenario.

RESULTS. Partial correlations showed that poorer physical fitness was correlated with more collisions and stop signs missed and lower scores on a composite score of attention, executive function, and psychomotor speed. Cognitive dysfunction predicted reduced driving simulation performance.

CONCLUSION. Reduced physical fitness in participants with HF was associated with worse simulated driving, possibly because of cognitive dysfunction. Larger studies using on-road testing are needed to confirm our findings and identify clinical interventions to maximize safe driving.