New scientific evidence shows a causal relationship between sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s disease.
The term dementia describes memory loss, confusion, and a progressive deterioration in thinking skills. These defects are caused by the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain, and the prevention of this accumulation has been the main therapeutic goal of the disease.
A new study by researchers at the University of Queensland confirms a link between obstructive sleep apnea and an increased risk of dementia.
Professor Elizabeth Coulson of the University College of Biomedical Sciences and the Brain Institute and her team have discovered a causal relationship between low brain oxygen levels during sleep and neurodegenerative diseases.
“We found that in mice, sleep deprivation alone causes only mild cognitive impairment,” Coulson said. “But we developed a new method to induce respiratory distress during sleep and found that the mice showed exacerbated pathological signs of Alzheimer’s disease. that hypoxia – when the brain is deprived of oxygen – causes the same selective degeneration of neurons that is characteristic of dementia.
However, it has not yet been established how different degrees of hypoxia affect the risk of the disease.
Early human trials are underway to investigate the relationship between oxygen deprivation and cognitive impairment.
“It is estimated that about 50 percent of older adults have obstructive sleep apnea, where the muscles in the throat periodically collapse and block the airways during sleep, causing breathing to stop and resume,” Coulson said.
Unfortunately, many cases of obstructive sleep apnea go undiagnosed and untreated because the most obvious warning signs occur during sleep.
These symptoms include frequent snoring, shortness of breath, and silent pauses in breathing that can last from seconds to minutes.
However, according to WebMD, there may be other reliable tell-tale signs when you “awaken”. This includes:
• When you wake up with a severe or dry sore throat.
• Morning headache.
Vertigo on waking.
The NHS describes sleep apnea as a condition in which breathing stops and starts intermittently during sleep.
Although sleep apnea is unlikely to cause serious harm, if left untreated, it can lead to more serious problems.
Coulson noted that not everyone with obstructive sleep apnea will develop dementia.
She added: “Some dementia clinicians report that patients’ memory improves after their sleep problems are identified and treated.” Currently, the most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
This technology works by keeping the airways open during sleep and allowing oxygen to reach the brain.
Based on the latest scientific evidence, the researchers believe that the device may reduce the risk of dementia in patients with sleep apnea.