The link between respiratory impairment and cognitive function in multiple sclerosis


  • Respiratory impairment is highly correlated with disturbed sleep and cognitive impairment in people with MS; assessments of respiratory function should be conducted from early stage MS.

Why this matters

  • Cognitive impairment may be present from the onset of clinical disease; severity of cognitive impairment in MS is associated with age and level of physical disability.

  • Respiratory conditions can arise in the clinical course of MS, including respiratory muscle weakness, sleep-disordered breathing, central sleep apnea, central respiratory dysregulation and neurogenic deglutition disorders.

  • It has also been shown that pulmonary dysfunction is associated with poor cognition in later life, potentially due to hypoxia, reduced functioning of neurotransmitters, increased systemic inflammation, or a combination.