A diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in older adults was associated with increased risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), especially MCI of skills other than memory, and the greatest risk was among patients who had COPD for more than five years.
COPD is an irreversible limitation of airflow into the lungs, usually caused by smoking. More than 13.5 million adults 25 years or older in the U.S. have COPD. Previous research has suggested COPD is associated with cognitive impairment.
The authors examined the association between COPD and MCI, as well as the duration of MCI, in 1,425 individuals (ages 70 to 89 years) with normal cognition in 2004 from Olmsted County, Minn. At baseline, 171 patients had a COPD diagnosis.
Of the 1,425 patients, 370 developed MCI: 230 had amnestic MCI (A-MCI, which affects memory), 97 had nonamnestic MCI (NA-MCI), 27 had MCI of an unknown type and 16 had progressed from normal cognition to dementia. A diagnosis of COPD increased the risk for NA-MCI by a relative 83 percent during a median of 5.1 years of follow-up. Patients who had COPD for more than five years had the greatest risk for MCI.
"Our findings highlight the importance of COPD as a risk factor for MCI."