Research explores link between sleep disorders and dementia

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Research explores link between sleep disorders and dementia

By Michael Johnsen - 07/19/2017

LONDON — Better sleep may be linked to lowering the risk of conditions like Alzheimer's Disease, according to the latest research.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than one third of American adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. Clearly this is not good for brain health or overall health," stated Dean Hartley, director of science initiatives Alzheimer's Association. "Sleep disordered breathing is treatable in many cases. Through early diagnosis and effective treatment of these sleep disorders, there is the potential to improve cognition and possibly reduce dementia risk. But first we need to know more about the connections between these medical conditions."  

Several new research analyses reported at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2017 here found significant associations between sleep disordered breathing and the accumulation of biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease. These findings highlight the idea that SDB is a modifiable factor that may help lower the risk of dementia and possibly slow the progression of dementia where it already exists.

Sleep disordered breathing is characterized by repeated episodes of hypopnea (under breathing) and apnea (not breathing) during sleep. The predominant form of apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, occurs when an individual's upper airway closes partially or fully, but efforts to breath continue. OSA occurs in an estimated 3 in 10 men and 1 in 5 women.

According to research team leader, Omonigho Bubu, these research results "highlight the importance of checking for and accurately diagnosing sleep disordered breathing, especially in people at risk for dementia ... so that it can be addressed and treated," he said. "If OSA accelerates deposition of beta amyloid in the brain, then it becomes a possible target for therapeutic intervention. More research is needed to confirm these findings," Bubu added.


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