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The Connection Between Dementia and Chronic Lung Disease

24 Mar 2015
| Under COPD, Lung Disease, Related Conditions | Posted by | 12 Comments
Dementia and Chronic Lung Disease Lung Institute

Acknowledging the Dementia Epidemic

Currently, we live in a society that constantly hears about the presence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Between popular culture promoting films such as Still Alice and Away From Her and the increased effort to find a cure, people are finally beginning to care about these debilitating conditions. Just this past week at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference, a global action called for increased investment (over 100 million dollars) in promising research efforts for dementia. With the aging population, the WHO Director General said:

“There is a tidal wave of dementia coming our way worldwide…we need to see greater investments in research to develop a cure, but also to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and the support given to their caregivers.”

In many ways, the first step in curing dementia is learning how it develops and certain risk factors that contribute to a dementia diagnosis. Recent studies point to a link between chronic lung diseases like COPD and the development of dementia.

An Introduction to COPD and Other Chronic Lung Diseases 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that restricts the airflow in and out of the lungs. As a result, sufferers of a chronic lung disease like COPD often experience shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and the inability to perform simple tasks. Oftentimes, sufferers have very low oxygen levels, which can result in brain damage due to a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Scientific Findings about Lung Function and Cognitive Decline

Researchers began studying the connection between lung function and dementia risk in the 90’s. Ever since, new studies have emerged that point a finger at an increased risk for memory loss and dementia resulting from impaired lung function and chronic lung disease. Just in 2011, a fifteen-year study supported the hypothesis that reduced lung function increased the risk for dementia. The over-a-decade long study included 10,975 individuals and repeated pulmonary function tests and cognitive assessments. In the end, it is confirmed that lung function greatly impacts cognitive ability.

One study called Cognitive-pulmonary Disease states that “patients with COPD may have cognitive impairment, either globally or in single cognitive domains, such as information processing, attention and concentration, memory…” It is suspected that the cause is from hypoxemia, which is low blood oxygen levels, hypercapnia (an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the blood—a common side effect of smoking and COPD), or structural brain damage, such as the loss of white matter integrity, which can be induced by smoking.

As a result of new research findings, scientists are looking into the relationship between smoking and cognitive ability and the relationship between COPD and dementia. Due to the strong correlation between all three, we wonder whether quitting smoking could not only decrease your chances of developing COPD or another chronic lung disease, but could it decrease your chances of developing dementia as well? It is hoped that future research will determine whether maintaining optimal pulmonary health could prevent the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps even more intriguing is the possibility that treating your chronic lung disease could not only improve your lung function and quality of life, but it could also help maintain healthy cognition.

Improving your Lung Function

The benefits of improving your lung function seem relatively obvious: the ability to breathe easier, the chance to get back to the life you want, an improved prognosis—the list goes on. Now, there is the potential for improved lung function to also decrease the likelihood of developing a debilitating condition like dementia. Unfortunately, chronic lung diseases are incurable, but that does not mean they are untreatable. The Lung Institute is dedicated to challenging the incurable with regenerative medicine. Sufferers of a chronic lung disease can improve their lung function with cellular therapy. For more information, visit us at lunginstitute.com or call us at (800) 729-3065.


  1. Phoebe

    11 months ago

    Dear Mary,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear about the challenges you have been facing with COPD. We completely understand how you would feel afraid and worried. Like you, many people living with COPD experience anxiety and depression. It’s normal to feel this, and it’s important to seek help. Tell your pulmonologist or another doctor how you’re feeling and ask if they have any recommendations for support groups and trained counselors. You can also read our article about the link between COPD and depression by clicking here.

    At this time, insurance doesn’t cover cellular treatment. While we’re hopeful that treatment will be covered in the future, this could take some time. We’re happy to answer your questions about cellular therapy. So, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with someone from our dedicated medical team over our secure phone line. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Mary Barnes

    11 months ago

    Hello my name is Mary Barnes. Its been awhile since this was published and I was wondering if insurance covered cell research yet. I’m 42 and after a 2 year up hill battle with my Primary care physician not listening to me or my test results I’m in severe stages of cold and not much is helping including a lengthy hospital stay at the moment. I’m terrified, I won’t lie. I want to see my 4 children grow and thrive. I’ve beat addiction 12 years ago but, my memory is disappearing. Mainly my short term. I’ve just recently STOpped smoking. Could you help me at ALL? Could I help research?

  3. Phoebe

    1 year ago

    Dear Gina,

    Thanks for your comment. Like you, many people with COPD have shortness of breath. If you’re interested in learning more about cellular treatment for COPD, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. Our medical staff has a wealth of knowledge about cellular therapy, treatment, candidacy and more, and they are happy to answer your questions. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. Gina cates

    1 year ago

    I am 88 just found out that i have copd Friday. Smoked for 25 years but have not smoked for 28 years.. other wise in grEat health short of beath now. What so think for me am with medicare.

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  7. Cara Tompot

    3 years ago

    Hello Ira: Thank you so much for reaching out on behalf on your husband! Currently, our clinics are located Nashville, TN; Scottsdale, AZ; and Tampa, FL. At this moment, cell therapy for pulmonary conditions is not covered by insurance. The cost of treatment varies depending on the type of treatment chosen. To learn which treatment could work best for your husband, contact one of our patient coordinators at (855) 313-1149.

  8. Cara Tompot

    3 years ago

    Hi Robert! Thank you so much for reaching out. We do treat sufferers of COPD with cellular treatment. One of our patient coordinators can help determine if you qualify for treatment; our patient coordinators can be reached at (855) 313-1149.

  9. Cara Tompot

    3 years ago

    Hi Mary,

    Stem cell treatment has improved the lives of many of our patients suffering from COPD. To find out if you qualify, one of our patient coordinators can speak with you to learn more about your condition and medical history. A patient coordinator can help you determine whether cell therapy could help you. The best way to reach a patient coordinator is by phone at (855) 313-1149.

  10. mary rock

    3 years ago

    i have c o p d the doctor would like me to have a lung transplant i can’t to live for my family and that said go for it i think i really want to go a better way can cellular treatment help me

  11. Robert R jackson

    3 years ago

    I have COPD. I am 76 yrs old. I do 2 hours in the Gym(water aerobics,recline bike and weights)5 days per week. I do get short of breath when I walk too long. Can cell therapy help me? Iam presently taking Spiriva and Symicort.

  12. Ira Worsham

    3 years ago

    I am very interested in the cell research for my husband. He has Asbestosis and Pulmonary Fibrosis and has just started having problems in the last 6 months. Would like to know locations where to have it and the cost. Does medicare & BCBS cover it. We live in Al.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

As required by Texas state law, the Lung Institute Dallas Clinic has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from MaGil IRB, now Chesapeake IRB, which is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program (AAHRPP), for research protocols and procedures. The Lung Institute has implemented these IRB approved standards at all of its clinics nationwide. Approval indicates that we follow rigorous standards for ethics, quality, and protections for human research.