Sleep apnea may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, a new study has found.
USAAccording to the results of a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, one of the leading hospitals in the world, sleep apnea, a type of sleep disorder, can cause continuous shallow sleep, which can increase the risk of dementia and cognitive decline, such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
The research team scanned the brains of 140 people with obstructive sleep apnea (average age 73) and analyzed them overnight in a sleep laboratory. The participants had no cognitive problems at the beginning of the study and did not develop dementia by the end of the study. Among the participants, 34% had mild, 32% moderate, and 34% severe sleep apnea.
The research team looked at how long they stayed in slow-wave sleep, also known as non-REM stage 3 or deep sleep. Slow wave sleep is one of the best indicators of sleep quality.
As a result of the study, it was found that for every 10 percentage point decrease in the rate of slow-wave sleep, the brain white matter high-intensity signal volume increased at a level equivalent to the effect of increasing age by 2.3 years. In addition, axonal integrity decreased to a level equivalent to the effect of increasing age by 3 years.
The volume of white matter high-intensity signals in the brain increases when older people or hypertensive patients have poor blood pressure control. When axon integrity is lowered, the function of the axon, which forms the nerve fiber that connects nerve cells, deteriorates.
Dr. Diego Carvalho of the research team said, “Two biomarkers, such as brain white matter and axon, are sensitive signs of early cerebrovascular disease. “It is a very important result to find that sleep apnea and reduced slow wave sleep are related to this biomarker.” “We don’t prove that sleep apnea causes changes in the brain or vice versa, but there is a close link and more research is needed,” the researchers said. The results of this study (Sleep apnea, lack of deep sleep linked to worse brain health) were published in the journal Neurology, published by the American Academy of Neurology.
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