Bronchiectasis Increases Risk of Stroke and Cognitive Dysfunction, Study Suggests

Bronchiectasis Increases Risk of Stroke and Cognitive Dysfunction, Study Suggests

Bronchiectasis increases the risk of stroke, impaired cognitive function, and sleep disturbances, a study reports.

Researchers said the findings suggest that the disease can affect several systems in the body, not just the airways and lungs. Damage to airways causes bronchiectasis, whose hallmark is enlarged air passages that can lead to a build-up of mucus, infections and other problems.

The study involved a review of other research. Titled “Neurological and Sleep Disturbances in Bronchiectasis,” it was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Little research has been done on possible links between bronchiectasis and neurological conditions such as stroke, brain infections and cognitive function. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients.

A research team decided to analyze studies that looked at the relationship between bronchiectasis and other conditions.

Few studies have dealt with possible links between bronchiectasis and stroke, but the ones that scientists have conducted did find links. The research indicated that bronchiectasis patients are at higher risk of having a heart disorder or a stroke.

“The association between bronchiectasis and stroke is likely to be multi-factorial,” the review researchers wrote.

Factors contributing to the link between bronchiectasis, heart disease and stroke include inflammation, infections, and sleep disturbances, according to this research.

Some studies have investigated the quality of sleep in bronchiectasis patients. One used a questionnaire known as the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index to conclude that up to 57 percent of adults with bronchiectasis had sleep disturbances.

The biggest contributor to these patients’ sleep disturbances was depression, followed by increased volume of sputum in airways, and increased nighttime cough.

“This suggests that co-existing psychological morbidity [a psychological condition] can have a significant impact on sleep disturbance in patients with bronchiectasis,” the researchers wrote.

The team said the results indicate that doctors need to be vigilant about depression, especially in bronchiectasis patients who report sleep disturbances.

Scientists have known that people with respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, can experience cognitive dysfunction. But they have yet to learn how bronchiectasis affects cognition.

One study reported that bronchiectasis patients had lower IQ, verbal and performance test scores than healthy people. The patients also had much higher depression scores and lower oxygen levels in their blood.

In addition, a number of case studies have suggested a link between bronchiectasis and brain infections.

“Bronchiectasis may be related to diseases in multiple body systems, including the neurological system,” the researchers wrote. It is “associated with an increased risk of stroke and cerebral infection, impaired cognitive function and impact on sleep quality in patients with bronchiectasis,” they wrote.


  1. sue harris says:

    I have bronchiectasis and although I sleep well(I am on tricyclic medication for migranes) I have noticed a decline in cognitive ability and consequently confusion. I have mood changes and can spend days in bed ( I do not have the will to face the day) depressed and then be ok the next day. I constantly research trials for treatments and if I find something to give me hope this wil improve my mood for a while. I dread waking up at times.

    • Lee Dawkins says:

      I experience depression and the “can’t get off the couch” phenomenon mostly on the days I am feeling more weak and sick than usual, or just from dehydration and/or shallow breathing. It is a real struggle. Music helps me tremendously, as does sunshine and a gentle 20 minute program of tai chi/ qigong stretches from Makes me feel stronger and more optimistic.

    • Thai says:

      From everything I’ve read, I think getting regular vigorous exercise and time outdoors all year would be a big help to you. Staying in bed, or even being inactive, keeps your circulation from flowing as it should and increases inflammation in all our body systems. It will also keep our lymph system from functioning correctly, causing fluids and waste to build up. All of this makes us feel lousy and as you say, lose cognition and become depressed. Join a senior center and take classes if you’re over 50. Medicare has a Silver Sneakers program with free access to local gyms and their classes. Treatments are very helpful, but WE are our best healers and physicians! Volunteering at an animal shelter, church, elementary school, or any organization will give you a happy, useful reason to get up in the morning! Your city will have a directory of all organizations looking for volunteers. Good luck to you!

      • Tara Carpenter says:

        You haven’t researched this disease. You can’t function the way you imply without your immune shattering within 36hrs. It’s impossible to breathe in cold or heat.

  2. hebé Candelario says:

    In so sorry you are having such a difficult time. Have you spoken to your pulmonologist about this? I know that I’m coming with my “new normal” , and find that I tend to isolate myself at times. Spoke to my doc and started an antidepressant that has worked! I’m still trying to cope with my health issues but don’t despair the way I used too. I do hope this helpful. Keep me posted.

  3. Cheryl says:

    To the website editor:
    Given the season, you think you might have been able to find a more uplifting message. In fact it seems many of the articles you post are about negative aspects of the disease rather than positive research findings or what is on the horizon for new treatments or patient protocols that may help delay progression. I’m not saying patients should have their heads in the sand; I believe most are trying to understand the pathology of their disease. But I find a good portion of your “education” to be depressing without a whole lot of meaningful pro-active recommendations. A better balance of information, please!

  4. The productive, phlegm producing cough associated with Bronchiectasis greatly influences my willingness to socialize with my best friends. I/we know I am not contagious but I sure am not a very welcome addition to a group gathered for a pleasant get-together…..even if only in my own mind! Attempting to control the cough by using cough control meds defeats the purpose of airway clearance efforts. The choice I make is usually to keep my airways as clear as possible…..even if the process for doing so is not very compatible to being around friends.

  5. Deanne says:

    I totally agree with Cheryl. I’d like to read some research with uplifting news. Perhaps new medicines about to come out to actually help us. Something to look forward to. Depression can be lifted with hope.

  6. Maria Calzadilla says:

    Although I am an extremely positive and upbeat person, I also agree with Cheryl.

    I have noticed that excercising does help. Dancing (salsa) helps me keep mentally fit as well as provides with a gauge as to how far my progression has been. I have wonderful days where I can dance a couple of hours (appx 8 to 10 songs). These are usually pretty fast, however, there are times where 4 to 5 songs is the max I can do. This has caused me to be depressed for a few minutes but I’m very strong willed and snap out of it right away. I’m determined to stay as strong as possible, both physically and mentally. The fact that I am retired, helps quite a bit. To think I would have to be around people with colds all the time is unsettling.
    However, This disease has not kept me from having a social life at all as long as I let friends/people know that I’m not contagious and I try my best not to attend gatherings where people may be sick with a cold or flu, etc. Hope my thoughts and experiences help someone else.

  7. Loretta Hughes says:

    My situation is a little different. I was born with this disease and am 59 years old. I have always had a positive outlook on this disease because being born with it your body and mind adapt to it because it’s all it knows. Like it is a normal way of life. Although I do exercise and stay fit. My family and friends are supportive of me and understand this disease like I do because that is all they know just like me. I also keep myself busy with church groups, dancing and my grand children.
    I’ve gone through so many oral antibiotics and have become immune to most. I’ve had bleeding episodes of bleeding also with procedures call Bronchoscopy to cauterize bleeding vessels. So now I get IVs antibiotics and I am good for a while and I also do Nebulizer Albuterol treatments and have a Afflo Vest which does wonders bringing up all the mucus. I advise everyone with this disease to get this vest you will love it!

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