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Cognitive ability and risk of death from lower respiratory tract infection: Findings from UK Biobank

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Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2019


Dementia increases the risk of lower respiratory tract infection, but it is unclear whether risk varies across the normal range of cognitive ability. People with higher cognitive ability tend to behave in a healthier fashion as regards risk factors for lower respiratory tract infection and there is evidence that they have a lower risk of dying from respiratory disease as a whole. We therefore investigated the relationship between cognitive ability and mortality from lower respiratory tract infection. Participants were 434,413 people from UK Biobank (54% female). Cognitive ability was measured using tests of reaction time and reasoning. Data on deaths from lower respiratory infection were obtained from death certificates. Over a mean follow-up period of 6.99 years, 1,282 people died of lower respiratory infection. Mortality from lower respiratory tract infection fell as cognitive ability increased. For a standard deviation faster reaction time, the age- and sex-adjusted hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) was 0.80 (0.76, 0.83) and the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio was 0.87 (0.83, 0.91). There were similar though weaker associations when cognitive ability was assessed using a reasoning test. These findings suggest that variation across the normal range of cognitive ability increase risk of dying from lower respiratory tract infection.

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