Objective: To explore the influences of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on attention functions.
Methods: The research objects came from the Hospital Affiliated to Anhui Medical University from February to September in 2011. Attention network test (ANT) was employed to compare stable COPD patients (n = 38) with healthy controls (n = 36) in the efficiencies of anatomically defined attentional networks: alertness, orientation and executive attention.
Results: Significant group differences were found in orientation ((27 ± 8) ms vs (57 ± 4) ms, P = 0.001), but not in alertness ((19 ± 7) ms vs (32 ± 4) ms, P = 0.115) or executive attention network ((94 ± 15) ms vs (119 ± 11) ms, P = 0.196). The accuracy of attention network test was significantly slower in the COPD group than in the healthy controls (90.2% ± 1.6% vs 96.3% ± 1.7%, P = 0.011). The score of verbal fluency test was significantly lower in COPD patients than in healthy controls (18.2 ± 0.5 vs 21.4 ± 0.6, P = 0.000).
Conclusions: The attention functions of COPD patients are impaired, especially oriental network efficiency. It is probably due to chronic hypoxia, hypoxia-related low blood flow of temporal or parietal lobe or long-term anticholinergic drug use.