Objective. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with the risk of temporary or continuous hypoxemia. A low oxygen concentration may result in brain dysfunction and neuropsychological deficits leading to dementia. Sometimes law oxygen concentration and hypercapnia may be the cause of delusions and hallucinations. The aim of this study was to find out whether an impairment of cognitive functions and dementia may develop in the course of COPD and hypoxemia.
Subjects and method. Participants in the study were 36 patients with COPD, 32 patients with COPD and respiratory insufficiency, and 44 healthy volunteers. All patients were enrolled in the study on the basis of their medical history and physical examination; they were submitted to the Mini-Mental State Examination and spirometry.
Results - In 6% of the patients from the first group and in 19% of those in the second group dementia was diagnosed. There were no cases of dementia in the control group. A mild cognitive impairment was found in 22% of patients in both COPD groups, and in 2% of the controls. The mean Mini Mental State Examination scores were 27.13 ±2.54, 24.5 ± 1.07, and 28.5 ± 1.07, respectively. The cognitive impairment severity was correlated with FEV, in the first group (r = .79, p < .05), and with pO2 in the group with hypoxemia (r = .32, p = .0004).
Conclusion. COPD is probably a risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia.