Background: Studies have shown a decline in certain cognitive abilities in individuals diagnosed with heart disease of any type or etiology. This decline is observed as the disease progresses (Muller, Grobbee, Aleman, Bots & van der Schouw, 2006; Ernest et al., 2006), as well as after certain interventions, such as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and heart valve surgery. In recent years, there has been a great deal of emphasis on the beneficial effects of pomegranate on health, including diseases of the brain and the heart. Few, however, have explored the impact of pomegranate on cognitive functions. Thus, the current pilot study is unique in its exploration of the effects of pomegranate on various health parameters and its possible effectiveness in reducing cognitive declines, specifically memory, after cardiac surgery. Methods: The sample consisted of 10 patients, who had undergone elective, on-pump, normothermic cardiac surgery (CABG and/or valve surgery). Participants in the treatment group were given two pomegranate (PomX) capsules (1000mg each). Participants in the placebo group were given two placebo capsules. These capsules were taken daily starting one week before and continued to 6 weeks after surgery. Subjects were administered a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests at each testing session (1 week before surgery, 2 weeks after surgery and 6 weeks after surgery); however, those tests only assessing memory functions were selected. Results: Results revealed that the treatment and placebo groups performed similarly at time 3; however, the critical time period of interpatient variability seems to be from time 1 to time 2 (with higher incidences of clinical impairments for the placebo group), particularly with visual memory measures. Conclusions: Results suggest that there are fewer incidences of memory impairments from time 1 to time 2 for individuals that supplemented their treatment with pomegranate suggesting that the contents contained in pomegranate may be targeting the factors associated with early postoperative dysfunction (i.e. hypoxia, ischemia).

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Ropacki, Susan A.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2011

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Heart -- Surgery; Memory -- physiology;

Subject - Local

Postoperative dysfunction; Hypoxia; Ischema; Memory function; Cardiac surgery; Pomegranates



Page Count

128 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives