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21-03-2013 | Respiratory | Article

Asthma linked to mild cognitive impairment in older patients


Free abstract

medwireNews: Results from a US study suggest that older patients with asthma are at increased risk for mild cognitive impairment compared with their nonasthmatic counterparts.

Indeed, E Sherwood Brown (The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas) and team found that older patients with asthma were 78% more likely to have mild cognitive impairment than similarly aged patients without the condition.

"Prior cognition research in adults with asthma is limited to reports in inpatients who were likely receiving systemic corticosteroids, and patients with asthma exacerbations scheduled to initiate oral corticosteroid therapy," the authors explain.

"The current report adds to these findings by examining older, generally healthy patients with relatively mild asthma."

The findings come from a study of 102 patients with and 1278 patients without asthma who were aged at least 55 years and underwent preventive health examinations between 2009 and 2012.

Most of the patients with asthma had mild disease - 75.5% had a forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)/forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio of more than 70, 72.5% were not currently taking inhaled corticosteroids, and 77.5% rated their health as "good" or "excellent."

All of the participants completed the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), which is a validated 8-item test that assesses eight cognitive domains including attention, executive functions, and memory. Scores on the MoCA range from 0 to 30, with a score of less than 26 indicating possible mild cognitive impairment.

The mean MoCA score for the combined groups was 26.9, Brown et al note.

However, after accounting for factors such as gender, age, education, alcohol use, smoking, diabetes, depression, and body mass index, the team found that patients with asthma were significantly more likely to have a MoCA score of less than 26 than those without the condition, at an odds ratio of 0.78.

The researchers note that indicators of asthma severity, such as corticosteroid inhaler use, FEV1/FVC ratio, and health ratings, were not associated with MoCA scores.

The authors conclude: "In a large sample of older participants, asthma was associated with a significantly increased risk of cognitive impairment.

"Additional research is needed to confirm this finding and determine the etiology and impact of cognitive changes in asthma."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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