Dementia Risks Linked to Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
As we get older, it’s natural for us to undergo some new health problems. It’s only natural as our bodies age. But if you have untreated obstructive sleep apnea, you could be increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia. Recent research shows that people with obstructive sleep apnea who treat sleep apnea with a CPAP machine have a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
To understand the connection between dementia and sleep apnea, ApneaMed has outlined these conditions and their connection.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that causes an individual to stop breathing numerous times throughout the night. These breathing disruptions happen when the muscles and soft tissues within the throat, causing the airway to become blocked. In an attempt to reopen the airway and restore oxygen flow, the individual often finds themselves snoring, choking, or gasping for air.
The breathing disruptions can occur only a few times up to a few hundred times throughout the night. Often, the individual isn’t aware these breathing cessations are happening and is told about them by a partner. When left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to other health problems, including stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, and dementia.
What Is Dementia?
Currently dementia impacts approximately 5.8 million Americans. Dementia isn’t a particular disease but refers to a group of health conditions characterized by an impairment in brain functions, such as decision making, memory loss, and cognitive ability that interfere with everyday activities. The onset of dementia can occur slowly or quickly but can present as forgetfulness, social isolation, and cognitive skills.
Dementia is most common in older adults and is not a normal part of aging, which is why it’s essential to understand the connection between sleep apnea and dementia.
The Connection Between Dementia and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
A recent study performed by researchers from Michigan Medicine’s Sleep Disorders Centers found that adults with obstructive sleep apnea who received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia.
The study analyzed more than 50,000 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. They looked at the individuals in the group that received CPAP therapy and compared them to those that went untreated over three years, looking for a decline in cognitive function or a diagnosis of dementia.
By comparing these two groups, the researchers found a correlation between the use of positive airway pressure therapy and lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia over three years, which suggests that treatment for OSA may be a protective measure against cognitive impairment in older patients.
According to Galit Levi Dunietz, Ph.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of neurology and a sleep epidemiologist, “We found a significant association between positive airway pressure use and lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia over three years, suggesting that positive airway pressure may be protective against dementia risk in people with OSA,”
Get Tested for Sleep Apnea with ApneaMed
If you or a patient has difficulty sleeping or feeling unrested after a full night’s sleep, it’s essential to get tested for sleep apnea. Early intervention and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea provide an opportunity to reduce the symptoms of dementia later in life.
To determine if you’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, we recommend performing a self-administered sleep apnea test. A home sleep study makes it easy for the patient to conduct the test in the comfort of their own home.
While sleeping, the device records the patient’s blood oxygen levels, heart and breathing rates, and how often their body moves blood oxygen saturation. Following the unattended home sleep study, one of ApneaMed’s board-certified sleep physicians will analyze the results and offer a recommended treatment plan to improve your sleep quality, thus decreasing the risk of dementia.
Contact our team to learn more if you have any questions about ApneaMeds’ at-home sleep apnea test or our sleep apnea treatment equipment.