Does peak expiratory flow moderate trajectories of cognitive function among individuals with lung diseases? A longitudinal analysis of the National Health and Aging Trends Study

Respir Med. 2023 Feb:207:107120. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2023.107120. Epub 2023 Jan 14.


Introduction: Impaired cognitive function can co-exist in chronic respiratory diseases. However, it is not clear if peak expiratory flow (PEF) impacts changes in cognitive function. Our objective was to explore whether peak expiratory flow moderates trajectories of memory, visuospatial abilities, and executive function in individuals with chronic respiratory diseases.

Methods: This was an analysis of individuals with lung diseases from the National Health and Aging Trends Study. Multivariable-adjusted generalized linear mixed models were used to estimate trajectories of immediate and delayed recall, and clock drawing over a 10-year follow-up. The interaction between PEF and time were plotted using sex-specific values for peak expiratory flow at 10th, 50th and 90th percentiles.

Results: In females, interactions of time-by-PEF were found for both immediate (n = 489, t = 2.73, p<0.01) and delayed recall (n = 489, t = 3.38, p<0.01). Females in the 10th vs. 90th percentile of PEF declined in immediate recall at 0.14 vs. 0.065 words/year, and 0.17 vs. 0.032 words/year for delayed recall. Among males, recall declined linearly over 10 years (immediate recall: n = 296, t = -3.08, p < 0.01; delayed recall: n = 292, t = -2.46, p = 0.02), with no interaction with PEF. There were no time-by-PEF interactions nor declines over time in clock drawing scores in both sexes (females: n = 484, t = 0.25, p = 0.81; males: n = 291, t = -0.61, p = 0.55).

Conclusion: Females with the lowest PEF values experienced the greatest rates of decline in immediate and delayed recall over 10 years of follow-up, whereas males experienced similar declines in memory outcomes across all levels of PEF. Clock drawing scores remained stable over 10 years in both sexes.

Keywords: Cognitive function; Longitudinal study; Lung disease; Peak expiratory flow.

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Respiratory Function Tests