The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Alzheimer's

Obstructive sleep apnea may raise Alzheimer's disease risk for elderly people

(RxWiki News) Having sleep apnea may raise your risk for Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

This new study found that older people who had obstructive sleep apnea had higher levels of biomarkers that signal Alzheimer's disease. And the more severe the sleep apnea was, the higher the Alzheimer's risk appeared to be.

Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that affects millions of elderly people in the United states. It is a chronic, degenerative brain condition that degrades memory and other cognitive functions over time.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder marked by repetitive blockages to your breathing while you sleep, causing sleep disturbances. Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes and other health conditions.

This study looked at more than 200 participants between the ages of 55 and 90. More than half had obstructive sleep apnea. The participants with sleep apnea had higher levels of a biomarker for Alzheimer's disease over time.

Based on their findings, the authors of this study said they believed common sleep apnea treatments could help lower Alzheimer's risk in older adults who have sleep apnea. Weight loss, different sleep positions, reduced alcohol intake and medical devices that assist with breathing are all common treatments for sleep apnea. These researchers called for better screening tools to identify obstructive sleep apnea in older patients.

If you are concerned about your sleep or your risk for Alzheimer's disease, discuss your concerns with your health care provider.

This study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The National Institutes of Health, Foundation for Research in Sleep Disorders, American Sleep Medicine 442 Foundation Junior Faculty Award and Friedman Brain Institute, among other sources, funded this research. The study authors disclosed no potential conflicts of interest.

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Review Date: 
November 15, 2017
Last Updated:
November 17, 2017