Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been linked with an increased risk of a type of breakage in the blood vessels in the brain, known as microbleeds, which is a marker of cerebral small vessel disease.
Researchers have found that people with COPD are more likely to have these tiny cerebral microbleeds than people without the lung condition. Cerebral small vessel disease is a key cause of disability in elderly people and leads to decline in brain function.
The findings of a new study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, investigated the link between the two conditions.
The researchers investigated 165 people with COPD and 645 people with normal lung function. They confirmed diagnosis of COPD through a lung function test and analysed cerebral microbleeds with a MRI scan.
The people with COPD had a significantly higher number of cerebral microbleeds throughout their brain, compared with the group with normal lung function. The researchers found that microbleeds were more frequent as the person’s breathing became more difficulty due to the progression of the COPD.