HealthDay News — Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with an increased prevalence of cerebral microbleeds, particularly in deep or infratentorial locations, according to researchers.

To examine whether COPD relates to the development and location of cerebral microbleeds, Lies Lahousse, PhD, PharmD, from Ghent University Hospital in Belgium, and colleagues analyzed data from participants in the Rotterdam study, a prospective population-based cohort of adults ≥55 years.

Spirometry confirmed diagnosis of COPD and magnetic resonance imaging was used to detect cerebral microbleeds. The findings were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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Cerebral microbleeds were significantly more prevalent among the 165 participants with COPD compared with the 645 participants with normal function (odds ratio 1.7; 95% CI: 1.15–2.47; P=0.007), independent of age, sex, smoking status, atherosclerotic macroangiopathy, antithrombotic use, total cholesterol, triglycerides and serum creatinine.

Specifically, participants with COPD had a significantly higher occurrence of microbleeds in deep or infratentorial locations (odds ratio, 3.3; 55% CI:1.97–5.53; P<0.001), which increased with airflow limitation severity.

In an analysis restricted to participants without microbleeds at baseline, COPD was a significant, independent predictor of incident cerebral microbleeds in deep or infratentorial locations (OR, 7.1; 95% CI: 2.1–24.5; P=0.002).

“The results of this study are compatible with an increased risk of COPD on the development of cerebral microbleeds in deep or infratentorial locations,” the researchers wrote. “Given the importance of cognitive and functional consequences, our results might lead to a better recognition of vulnerable patient groups, and enhance research into necessary preventive strategies.”


  1. Lahousse L et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013; 188(7):783-788.