Pulmonary Function in Midlife as a Predictor of Later-Life Cognition: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Adults (CARDIA) Study

Brian T. Joyce, Xuefen Chen, Kristine Yaffe, Benjamin E. Henkle, Tao Gao, Yinan Zheng, Ravi Kalhan, George Washko, Ken M. Kunisaki, Bharat Thyagarajan, Myron Gross, David R. Jacobs, Donald Lloyd-Jones, Kiang Liu, Stephen Sidney, Lifang Hou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Studies found associations between pulmonary function (PF) and cognition, but these are limited by mostly cross-sectional design and a single measure of PF (typically forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]). Our objective was to prospectively analyze the association of repeatedly measured PF with cognition. Methods: We studied 3 499 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults cohort with cognition measured at year 25 (Y25) and Y30, and PF (FEV1 and forced vital capacity [FVC], reflecting better PF) measured up to 6 times from Y0 to Y20. Cognition was measured via Stroop test, Rey-Auditory Verbal Learning Test [RAVLT], and digit symbol substitution test [DSST], which capture executive function, verbal learning and memory, and attention and psychomotor speed, respectively; lower Stroop, and higher RAVLT and DSST scores indicate better cognition. We modeled linear, cross-sectional associations between cognition and PF at Y30 (mean age 55), and mixed models to examine associations between cognition at Y25-Y30 and longitudinal PF (both annual rate of change, and cumulative PF from Y0 to Y20). Results: At Y30, FEV1 and FVC were cross-sectionally associated with all 3 measures of cognition (β = 0.08-0.12, p <. 01-.02). Annual change from peak FEV1/FVC ratio was associated with Stroop and DSST (β = 18.06, 95% CI = 7.71-28.40; β = 10.30, 95% CI = 0.26-20.34, respectively), but not RAVLT. Cumulative FEV1 and FVC were associated with Stroop and DSST (β = 0.07-0.12, p <. 01-.02), but only cumulative FEV1 was associated with RAVLT (β = 0.07, 95% CI = 0.00-0.14). Conclusions: We identified prospective associations between measures of PF and cognition even at middle ages, adding evidence of a prospective association between reduced PF and cognitive decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2517-2523
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


  • Aging
  • Cognition
  • Pulmonary function


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