A new study by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine has shown that severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with lower cognitive function in older adults.
COPD is caused by noxious particles or gas, most commonly from smoking, which trigger an abnormal inflammatory response in the lung.
In the study, researchers compared cognitive performance in over 4,150 adults with and without COPD and found that individuals with severe COPD had significantly lower cognitive function than those without, even after controlling for confounding factors such as comorbidities.
"Our findings should raise awareness that adults with severe COPD are at greater risk for developing cognitive impairment, which may make managing their COPD more challenging, and will likely further worsen their general health and quality of life," said lead author of the study, William W. Hung, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Patients with COPD may experience periods of hypoxia-low oxygen levels-that might lead to brain abnormalities that could reduce cognitive capacity.
Alternatively, hypoxia may cause or exacerbate diseases that are characterized by cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer's disease.
The results were published in the July 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.