Could OSA Lead to Early Alzheimer’s?

January 19, 2022 | Sleep Apnea |

Sleep plays a vital role not only in our physical health, but our mental health as well. Specifically, quality sleep is important for cognitive function and long-term memory. Perhaps that is why it comes as no surprise that some research suggests a link between sleep orders such as obstructive sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s.

Sleep Apnea and Alzheimers Disease

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder characterized by a blockage of the airway during sleep. Individuals experiencing this blockage stop breathing multiple times throughout the night, and often wake gasping or choking for air. OSA has already been linked to numerous health risks, such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and stroke.

Symptoms of sleep apnea can include:

  • Snoring
  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Mood swings

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative disorder in which brain cells die, resulting in confusion and memory loss. The disease is prominent in older individuals. Approximately 50 million people around the world suffer from this disease.

In addition to confusion and memory loss, common symptoms may include difficulty with numbers, mood swings, and impaired motor function.

The Connection Between Alzheimer’s and OSA

Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, has long been the gold standard for treating sleep apnea. CPAP therapy provides a constant flow of air pressure to an individual’s airway in order to keep it open throughout the night. This allows oxygen to flow to the patient’s brain and lungs, resulting in restful sleep. Continued use can even help alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea.

In a 2015 study, researchers discovered that individuals suffering from sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) are more at risk for earlier onset of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers studied three groups without SDB and with untreated SDB and discovered that, on average, individuals with SDB developed cognitive impairment 10 years sooner than those without SDB.

In the same study, researchers used CPAP therapy to determine whether or not the onset of cognitive impairment could be delayed. In two of the three groups, CPAP was able to delay the onset of mental decline by an average of 10 years.

While more research is still necessary, this study indicates a connection between disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s. Can CPAP therapy delay cognitive impairment in those without disorders such as sleep apnea? The answer is still an open-ended one. However, individuals who think they may be suffering from sleep-disordered breathing should take the necessary steps toward diagnosis and treatment. Untreated SDB can have a negative impact on not only your physical, but also your mental well-being.

The CPAP Shop provides everything that sleep apnea patients need to begin their CPAP therapy. From machines, like the Resvent iBreeze, and masks to filters and mask liners – we have it all. If you have questions about your sleep therapy, contact us today. Our customer care team is available at 866-414-9700 or via email at questions@thecpapshop.com.

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Chris Vasta

Author

Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…


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