Bidirectional relationship between cognitive function and pneumonia

Faraaz Ali Shah, Francis Pike, Karina Alvarez, Derek Angus, Anne B. Newman, Oscar Lopez, Judith Tate, Vishesh Kapur, Anthony Wilsdon, Jerry A. Krishnan, Nadia Hansel, David Au, Mark Avdalovic, Vincent S. Fan, R. Graham Barr, Sachin Yende

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: Relationships between chronic health conditions and acute infections remain poorly understood. Preclinical studies suggest crosstalk between nervous and immune systems. Objectives: To determine bidirectional relationships between cognition and pneumonia. Methods:We conducted longitudinal analyses of a population-based cohort over 10 years. We determined whether changes in cognition increase risk ofpneumonia hospitalizationbytrajectory analyses and joint modeling.We then determined whether pneumonia hospitalization increased risk of subsequent dementia using a Cox model with pneumonia as a time-varying covariate. Measurements and Main Results: Of the 5,888 participants, 639 (10.9%) were hospitalized with pneumonia at least once. Most participants had normal cognition before pneumonia. Three cognition trajectories were identified: no, minimal, and severe rapid decline. A greater proportion of participants hospitalized with pneumonia were on trajectories of minimal or severe decline before occurrence of pneumonia compared with those never hospitalized with pneumonia( proportionwith no, minimal,andsevere declinewere67.1%, 22.8%, and 10.0% vs. 76.0%, 19.3%, and 4.6% for participants with and without pneumonia, respectively; P , 0.001). Small subclinical changes in cognition increased risk of pneumonia, even in those with normal cognition and physical function before pneumonia (beta; = 20.02; P , 0.001). Participants with pneumonia were subsequently at an increased risk of dementia (hazard ratio, 2.24 [95% confidence interval, 1.62-3.11]; P = 0.01). Associations were independent of demographics, health behaviors, other chronic conditions, and physical function. Bidirectional relationship did not vary based on severity of disease, and similar associations were noted for those with severe sepsis and other infections. Conclusions: A bidirectional relationship exists between pneumonia and cognition and may explain how a single episode of infection in well-appearing older individuals accelerates decline in chronic health conditions and loss of functional independence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-592
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013


  • Cognitive function
  • Dementia
  • Pneumonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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