According to new research published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, older adults who have obstructive sleep apnea may be at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They found a link between sleep apnea and high levels of the amyloid protein that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, it is reported that biomarkers for amyloid beta, the plaque-building peptides associated with Alzheimer’s disease, increase over time in elderly adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in proportion to OSA severity. Thus, individuals with more apneas per hour had greater accumulation of brain amyloid over time.
The study included 208 participants, age 55 to 90. None of the participants was referred by a sleep center, used continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to treat sleep apnea, was depressed, or had a medical condition that might affect their brain function. The researchers performed lumbar punctures (LPs) to obtain participants’ cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) soluble amyloid levels, and then used positron emission tomography, or PET, to measure amyloid deposits directly in the brain in a subset of participants. The study found out that more than half the participants had OSA, including 36.5 percent with mild OSA and 16.8 percent with moderate to severe OSA.
The researchers concluded that addressing sleep apnea in its early stages could reduce the number of amyloid beta deposits occurring in the brain and consequently delay cognitive impairment and dementia.
If you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and are wondering if you have sleep apnea, contact CanSleep to do a free diagnostic test, so that if you do have sleep apnea, there is a chance of slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s by properly treating the sleep apnea.
By Bahareh Ezzati (RRT)