Lung Disease Associated with Dementia Later in Life

Midlife lung disease and impaired lung function may be associated with dementia and cognitive impairment later in life, researchers found in a recent study. 

“Preventing dementia is a public health priority, and previous studies have suggested that poor lung health, which is often preventable, may be linked to a greater risk of developing dementia,” said lead study author Pamela L. Lutsey, MD, PhD, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. “In this study, we looked at the long-term association between poor lung function and the risk of developing dementia, using high-quality measures.” 

The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study included 14,184 patients who underwent spirometry and were asked about lung health between 1987 and 1989. Patients were later evaluated for dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). For all patients, researchers evaluated hospitalization codes between 1987 and 2013, and they also considered a comprehensive neurocognitive exam that 42% of patients took between 2011 and 2013. 

The risk of dementia or MCI was increased in patients with restrictive (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio [OR] [95% confidence interval {CI}] 1.58 [1.15-2.19]) and obstructive lung disease (1.29 [1.05-1.59]) compared to patients who did not have respiratory disease or symptoms. Researchers separately assessed nonsmokers and still found similar results. 

“Low forced expiratory volume in 1 second % predicted and forced vital capacity % predicted were also associated with increased dementia risk,” the researchers wrote. 

The study was not a randomized, controlled trial, so researchers could not prove cause and effect. 

“If the observed associations are causal, policy and public health efforts to reduce smoking and improve air quality may have the added benefit of preventing the development of dementia and MCI,” the researchers wrote. 

The Allergist’s Guide to the GOLD Guidelines for COPD 

EARLY versus MILD Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 

Five-Minute Neck Test Can Predict Dementia Ten Years Before Symptoms 

Are noise and air pollution related to the incidence of dementia? A cohort study in London, England 

Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine