There is increasing evidence demonstrating an association between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cognitive impairment. We present a narrative review of published studies on the subject and a cross-sectional study investigating domain-specific cognitive impairment in people with COPD compared to people with known Alzheimer's dementia, and controls without known COPD or cognitive impairment. The aim of the study was to compare prevalence and pattern of cognitive impairment between the three groups using the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination (ACE)-III tool. A total of 89 participants were recruited (44 with COPD, 17 with Alzheimer's and 28 controls). Patients with COPD had significantly lower total ACE-III scores than controls (p<0.001). When comparing the COPD group to the known Alzheimer's dementia group, overall ACE-III scores were significantly lower in the Alzheimer's dementia group than the COPD group (p=0.019). The domain-specific scores for attention (p<0.004), memory (p<0.004) and fluency (p<0.001) were significantly lower in the Alzheimer's dementia group than the COPD group. Our result suggest that the COPD group were significantly more likely to have cognitive impairment than the healthy control group. This was supported by the results of a narrative review of the published literature. Our results show that the pattern of impairment in the COPD group is different to the pattern of impairment shown in the known Alzheimer's dementia group, with significant differences in the cognitive domains affected. These results are in keeping with the findings of other previously published studies included in the narrative review.
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