French study shows a link between Sleep Apnea and Alzheimer’s Disease
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is sleep-associated disordered breathing when a person’s airway collapses while sleeping resulting in long pauses in breathing.
What is the consequence of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea causes pulmonary hypertension (increased blood pressure in the lungs) hypertension, heart attack, and strokes.
Recent studies have shown that it may also damage the liver and spleen.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a common term for memory disorders of which Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common. In the US an estimated 5 million people over the age of 65 are living with the disease.
The link between Sleep Apnea and Alzheimer’s Dementia
A recent study in the Journal JAMA Neurology showed that older patients that were not diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea had amyloid plaques in their brain. These plaques are characteristic findings in the brain of people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia. The study also found inflammation in areas of the brain in patients with sleep apnea that is similar to patients’ brains with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia.
The study did not look to identify cause nor the progression of sleep apnea patients to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
The study underlines the importance of diagnosing and treating sleep apnea especially in older individuals above the age of 65 to maintain healthy memory and cognitive function.