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Lung diseases in middle age increases risk of dementia

In adults of middle age with lung disease are at higher risk of developing dementia or cognitive impairment in the future, say researchers in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine American thoracic society (American Thoracic Society).

Prevention of dementia is a public health priority, and previous studies have shown that poor health of the lungs, which is often preventable, can be associated with a higher risk of developing dementia. In this study we examined the long-term correlation between poor lung function and risk of dementia, using high-quality measurements, said Dr. Pamela L. Lutsi (Pamela L. Lutsey), the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist with the school of public health, University of Minnesota (University of Minnesotas School of Public Health).

In the study, the atherosclerosis Risk in communities analyzed data on more than 14 000 participants, whose average age was 54 years. Was conducted spirometry (one of the main methods of diagnosis for assessment of the functional state of the lungs) and asked questions about the health of the lungs. The group were followed for 23 years, assessing the presence of dementia or cognitive impairment. During this time, the evaluation or after analysis of hospital diagnostic codes, there were 1407 cases of dementia.

As restrictive lung disease (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis), and obstructive (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD), are associated with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive disorders.

The probability of dementia or mild cognitive impairment (compared with those who have no lung disease) above:

  • 58% in restrictive lung disease.
  • 33% in obstructive lung diseases.

The study also found that dementia was the reason for the low results of two spirometry tests of forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1, the amount of air that a person can forcibly exhale in one second) and forced vital capacity (FVC measurements easy).

According to scientists, a possible explanation is the low level of oxygen in the blood due to lung disease. This, in turn, can lead to inflammation, stress, and damage to blood vessels of the brain.

However, the study has several limitations. First, lung function, participants were assessed only at baseline, and secondly, many patients died before evaluation for the presence of dementia or cognitive impairment. Third, the study was not randomized and controlled, and therefore cannot provide evidence of a causal link between lung disease and dementia or mild cognitive impairment.

Prevention of lung diseases is important in nature. If other studies confirm the conclusions of our research, individuals and politicians will have added incentive to make changes that protect the health of the lungs, as this may also prevent dementia, concluded Pamela L. Lutsi.

Valeria SEMA