The Relationships Among Pulmonary Function, Aerobic Fitness, and Cognitive Functioning in Older COPD Patients

The Relationships Among Pulmonary Function, Aerobic Fitness, and Cognitive Functioning in Older COPD PatientsThe age-related decline in the cognitive functioning of healthy adults is a well-documented phenomenon. As healthy people advance in age beyond the sixth decade, they typically experience declines in a variety of cognitive functions. However, while these age-related declines are well established, the cause of these declines remains unclear. One hypothesis which has been proposed is that the declines in cognitive functioning are due to a decrease in the transport of oxygen to the cerebral environment. Indirect support for this hypothesis is provided by evidence that older deconditioned individuals have decreased oxygen transport to the brain. The hypothesis contends that decreased oxygen transport to the brain results in a decline in cognitive capabilities. Click Here

While the impact of advancing age on cognitive functioning has been studied extensively in normal healthy samples, changes in cognitive functioning in older impaired individuals have not been studied as frequently. Because of the proposed link between cognitive functioning and oxygen transport, the study of cognitive functioning capabilities in older individuals with COPD is of particular interest. Arterial oxygen desaturation may develop in these patients as a result of their disease. This decline in arterial oxygen content could subsequently result in a decrease in oxygen transport to the brain. Additionally, this decrease in arterial oxygen content may cause dyspnea during activity, which typically results in an avoidance of activity and facilitates further deconditioning. Thus, older individuals who have COPD may be affected in three ways that are relevant to cognitive functioning. They may experience age-related declines in blood flow, disease-related declines in arterial oxygen content, and both age- and disease-related declines in physical activity. The combination of these three factors makes this population an interesting one to study to glean information about the relationship between aerobic fitness, arterial oxygen content, and cognitive functioning.

Category: COPD

Tags: mental health, mental processes, respiratory mechanics