Sleep Apnea Increases Risk of Alzheimer's
Last updated 7/16/2023 at 3:11pm | View PDF
A new study published in Neurology has found that sleep apnea and a lack of deep sleep may be associated with poorer brain health, leading to increased risks for stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.
Sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder that can also increase other health risks, including cardiovascular disease and hypertension. The research involved looking at sleep factors and biomarkers of brain health and suggests that people with sleep apnea who spend less time in deep sleep are more likely to have brain biomarkers associated with a heightened risk of these conditions.
The study included 140 people with an average age of 73, all of whom had obstructive sleep apnea but did not have dementia before the study. Researchers found that for every 10-point decrease in deep sleep, white matter hyperintensities increased, which were the equivalent of being 2.3 years older.
While the study cannot say whether this association causes the alterations or vice versa, diagnosis is critical. There are steps people can take to reduce sleep apnea risks, including lifestyle modifications.