Lung Disease May Raise Risk of Dementia

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Your chance of developing dementia may go up if you have lung disease in middle age, according to a study published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The study authors found that lung diseases were linked to mild cognitive impairment, as well as to dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The association was stronger for restrictive lung diseases, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis, than it was for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The researchers assessed data on, and interviewed more than, 14,000 people with an average age of 54 who had undergone a lung test called spirometry. After an average of 23 years, they assessed the participants for dementia and cognitive impairment.

Researchers found that the odds of dementia or mild cognitive impairment were 58 percent higher among those with restrictive lung disease and 33 percent higher among those with obstructive lung disease.

The study’s authors speculate that the low blood oxygen levels associated with lung disease may have led to inflammation, stress, and other damage to the blood vessels in the participants’ brains.

The authors of the study believe the link between the two conditions should encourage efforts to help people quit smoking and improve air quality, to lessen the risk of lung diseases.

Sourced from: American Thoracic Society