Depression, fatigue and vigilance play a role in shaping brain mechanisms associated with interpretation of dyspnea-related cues in patients with COPD, according to study results.

The researchers indicate that heightened responses to important cues associated with increased symptom perception in disorders such as asthma may now be relevant in patients with COPD.

The researchers showed participants a random set of dyspnea-related word cues during scanning. The participants had to rate each word according to how breathless and how anxious a word made them feel on a visual analogue score.

Patients with COPD had a higher score than the healthy participants in the majority of the questionnaires except one. During scanning, patients rated word cues higher for dyspnea (53.6) than did the healthy participants (8.4). Patients also rated dyspnea-anxiety (43.1) higher than controls (5.8) during scanning.