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Sleep Disorders Raise Risk of Cognitive Decline

Posted on Jan. 12, 2017, 6 a.m. in Sleep Alzheimer's Disease Brain and Mental Performance

Heavy snoring and sleep apnea may signal earlier memory and thinking problems.

A result of ventilation obstruction during sleep, sleep disordered breathing such as heavy snoring and sleep apnea are common in aging.  Ricardo S. Osorio, from New York University School of Medicine (New York, USA), and colleagues examined the medical histories of 2,470 people, ages 55 to 90 ears.  Participants were categorized as either free of memory and thinking problems, in early stages of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or with Alzheimer's disease. Data analysis revealed that the people with sleep breathing problems were diagnosed with MCI an average of nearly 10 years earlier than people who did not have sleep breathing problems. That is, when researchers examined only people who developed MCI or Alzheimer's disease during the study, those with sleep breathing problems developed MCI at an average age of 77, compared to an average age of 90 for those who did not have sleep breathing problems. Among that group, those who had sleep breathing problems also developed Alzheimer's disease five years earlier than those who did not have sleep breathing problems, at an average age of 83 versus 88. The study authors warn that: “the presence of [sleep disordered breathing] was associated with an earlier age at cognitive decline.”

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Ricardo S. Osorio, Tyler Gumb, Elizabeth Pirraglia, Andrew W. Varga, Shou-en Lu, Jason Lim,; and For the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.  “Sleep-disordered breathing advances cognitive decline in the elderly.”  Neurology, April 15, 2015.

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