Healthy Living

Sleep Apnea and Dementia: New Link Discovered

sleep apnea and dementia

Sleep Apnea and Dementia: New Link Discovered

Sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing many times during sleep. And, the condition has recently been linked to dementia. These new findings are significant because sleep apnea affects over fifty percent of seniors. Sleep apnea causes sleepiness during daytime as well as fatigue. Additionally, sleep apnea has been associated with other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. The condition has also been associated with forgetfulness and other memory problems.

Sleep apnea is most common in men, as well as both men and women who  are overweight. It happens when the soft tissues at the back of the throat and mouth relax too much while asleep. This causes the airways to get blocked. This is why people with the condition habitually snore loudly, and they wake up many times throughout the night. However, they usually don’t remember awakening during the night. This leads to tiredness during the day.

In sleep apnea the person at times during sleep stops breathing. Recently sleep apnea has been linked to dementia. Sleep apnea causes fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Also other medical conditions have been associated with it. In men and in overweight men and women sleep apnea is most common. People with sleep apnea tend to snore loudly, throughout the night may wake up many times. Hence during the day they might become tired.

A link has been discovered between sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s disease. Increased memory loss is triggered by sleep apnea which causes failure in normal functioning which could be fatal. By living a healthy lifestyle sleep apnea can be addressed. Stay physically active if you are overweight.

It has been shown by a new study that a contributor of dementia is sleep apnea. It also showed that the progression of Alzheimer’s disease can be fast tracked by any sleep-disordered breathing.  In the past a connection was found between apnea, dementia and hypopnoea. The most common rationalization was age since usually older adults are hit by sleep breathing issues. This discovery shows that key markers for Alzheimer’s disease can be accumulated by sleep-disordered breathing.

A research study was done in humans and mice. It showed that high amounts of soluble beta amyloid may be present in those with problematic sleep patterns. The sticky plaques that kill our brain cells are shaped by this protein. Thus the way we process information is affected. The first preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease is putting amyloid in our brain tissue. Before any clear signs of dementia appear, this occurs.  Some studies have also revealed that between the chronic sleep disruption and development of amyloid plaques there is a correlation. Interesting study was done in mice. It showed that levels of beta amyloid were less in those mice that slept well. Thus from their brain toxins cleared effectively.

Another study showed a connection between the levels of protein in the CSF and the sleep quality in 101 cognitively healthy adults. They had risk factors for Alzheimer’s and their average age was 63.  On a standard scale the quality of their sleep was evaluated. During the day as well as nap, the drowsiness was measured.

Since sleep apnea is connected with low oxygen level in the blood it causes memory problem in people with sleep apnea. Thus the oxygen supply of the brain decreases. Researchers had found that people with dementia had low oxygen levels in their brain. On the other hand it was found that throughout the night waking up multiple times was not associated with dementia.   More research is needed to show the link between sleep disordered breathing and memory and thinking issues. In order to find out what is the outcome of sleep issues on dementia as well as Alzheimer’s disease, more studies will be needed. In people with Alzheimer’s disease, almost 70 to 80 percent of them may have sleep apnea. More severe signs from sleep apnea have been shown in aging patients with Alzheimer’s disease compared to those with sleep apnea but without dementia.

Risk factors for dementia include depression, physical inactivity, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and smoking.