Sleep Apnea and Aging

In a recent analysis of data from epidemiological studies, investigators found that individuals with obstructive sleep apnea and disturbed sleep secondary to that had developed dementia. One hundred patients had been followed for over a decade and two multi- longitudinal studies trying to determine cardiovascular risk factors of sleep apnea. The results were adjusted for gender, age and presence of apolipoprotein E4 (gene for Alzheimer disease). The findings were presented at American Academy of Neurology Meeting. It was reported that patients who were diagnosed with OSA, had developed dementia, and that sleep apnea was independently associated with dementia diagnosis. It is not clear whether chronic sleep deprivation or lack of deep sleep versus repeated drops in oxygen level in apnea patients was the mechanism to explain the findings. They concluded that sleep disruption increases the risk of future Alzheimer’s disease. This provides an even stronger motivation to identify and treat individuals with sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.

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