Doctor: Very Common Sleep Disorder Hastens Alzheimer’s

Treating your sleep problems may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s … 

(Megan Brooks, Medscape) A new study suggests that obstructive sleep apnea may have a role in amyloid accumulation in the brain, increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease .

“Treatment aimed at sleep apnea could mitigate the progression of cognitive impairment and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” Ricardo Osorio, MD

In a study of cognitively normal older adults, biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s increased over time in those with sleep apnea and in proportion to its severity.

Sleep disturbances contribute to accelerated cognitive decline

“Treatment aimed at sleep apnea (such as treatment with continuous positive airway pressure [CPAP] or dental appliances) could mitigate the progression of cognitive impairment and delay the onset of the disease,” said senior study author Ricardo Osorio, MD from NYU Langone Health in New York City.

The researchers investigated associations between sleep apnea severity and biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease in 208 healthy, cognitively normal adults aged 55 to 90 years.

Their findings suggest that sleep apnea “may play a role in [Alzheimer’s risk] in late-life,” the researchers write.

Dr. Osorio told Medscape Medical News that several studies have suggested that sleep disturbances might contribute to accelerated cognitive decline.

Sleep apnea is “extremely common” in the elderly and most don’t know they have it, Ronald Chervin, MD, from the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center in Ann Arbor and past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told Medscape Medical News.

“The fascinating finding in this study,” said Dr. Chervin, “is that this highly common, under diagnosed sleep disorder — sleep apnea — could be an impactful cause of amyloid accumulation in the brain.”

“Even more importantly, the findings fuel speculation that identification and treatment for OSA could reduce risk for development of Alzheimer’s disease. I think these are exciting findings to say the least.”  This scientific article has been condensed and edited for lay readers. Read the original post at Medscape. Also of interest: Yes, Exercise DOES Lower Alzheimer’s Risk