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The Connection Between Dementia and Chronic Lung Disease

24 Mar 2015
| Under COPD, Lung Disease, Related Conditions | Posted by | 8 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 stem cell therapy. For more information, visit us at lunginstitute.com or call us at (800) 729-3065.

8 Comments

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  3. Cara Tompot

    2 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, stem 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.

  4. Cara Tompot

    2 years ago

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

  5. Cara Tompot

    2 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 stem cell therapy could help you. The best way to reach a patient coordinator is by phone at (855) 313-1149.

  6. mary rock

    2 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 stem cell treatment help me

  7. Robert R jackson

    2 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 stem cell therapy help me? Iam presently taking Spiriva and Symicort.

  8. Ira Worsham

    2 years ago

    I am very interested in the stem 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.

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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