OBJECTIVE. We investigated participation levels and relationships among cognition, depression, and participation for people with severe congestive heart failure (CHF).

METHOD. People with severe CHF (New York Heart Association Class III or IV) awaiting heart transplantation (N = 27) completed standardized tests of cognition and self-report measures of executive dysfunction, depressive symptoms, and participation.

RESULTS. Possible depression (64%) and cognitive impairment (15%–59%) were prevalent. Participants reported significant reductions in participation across all activity domains since CHF diagnosis (ps < .001). Worse executive dysfunction and depressive symptoms were associated with reduced participation and together accounted for 35%–46% of the variance in participation (ps < .01).

CONCLUSION. Participation restrictions associated with CHF are not limited to physically demanding activities and are significantly associated with executive dysfunction and depression. Cardiac rehabilitation should address cognitive and psychological functioning in the context of all life situations instead of focusing solely on physical function and disability.

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