Identical signs of brain damage in sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s


ISLAMABAD, October 12 (online): In obstructive sleep apnea, a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and restarts. Symptoms include loud snoring, restless sleep, and sleepiness during the day.
Estimates of the condition’s prevalence among adults in the general population vary widely, from 9–38%. However, sleep apnea is typically more common among males, older people, and individuals with obesity.
Sleep apnea has links to poor attention, memory, and executive skills, and is a recognized risk factor for the development of dementia.
“We know that if you have sleep apnea in mid-life, you’re more likely to develop Alzheimer’s when you’re older and if you have Alzheimer’s, you are more likely to have sleep apnea than other people your age,” says Prof. Stephen Robinson of the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences at RMIT University in Bundoora, Australia.
“The connection is there, but untangling the causes and biological mechanisms remains a huge challenge,” he adds.
By studying postmortem samples from people who had sleep apnea, Prof. Robinson and his colleagues recently discovered that the severity of the condition correlates with reductions in the volume of the hippocampus.
This part of the brain, which is closely involved in memory, also atrophies in people with Alzheimer’s.
Using the same brain samples, Prof. Robinson’s team has now found the first evidence of amyloid plaques associated with sleep apnea.