Is There a Link Between Sleep Apnea and Dementia?

If you were to conduct a random survey and ask participants the question “As you age, would you rather keep your mental health or your physical health?”, most participants would not want to lose their mind and the ability to remember things and function at a normal cognitive level.

Yet, for those that suffer from dementia, this is exactly what happens.

Dementia is a debilitating mental disease that affects your memory, ability to reason, and can even result in drastic personality changes. Anyone who has seen a friend or family member suffer from dementia knows the stress it can cause not only on that person, but everyone around them.


What are the Causes of Dementia?

dementia-squareDementia is a broad term that covers a wide variety of symptoms associated with an overall decline in memory as well as other mental faculties. You’ve likely heard of Alzheimer’s, which is a specific condition that accounts for roughly 60-80% of dementia cases.

In addition to Alzheimer’s, other common forms of dementia are Vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, and Frontotemporal dementia.

While each type of dementia may present slightly different symptoms due to slightly different causes, the overarching causes of dementia are due to brain damage, the breakdown of nerve cells, and protein clumps (often called plaques) that develop in the brain.

You can read more about the different types of dementia here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/basics/causes/con-20034399


Is Sleep Apnea a Factor?

While a definitive link between poor sleep quality (often the result of obstructive sleep apnea) and dementia has not been established, there is plenty of evidence to support the possibilty that some sort of relationship between the two exists.

In fact, there was a study published in 2014 in the magazine Neurology that looked at the correlation between poor sleep quality, and dementia.

Specifically, researchers studied 167 participants (all men) who underwent sleep tests in 1999, and died by 2010. What they found was quite shocking.

After autopsy, they found that individuals in the highest quarter of participants received less than 95% oxygen saturation during sleep were at an almost 400% greater risk of developing dead tissue in the brain caused by a deprivation of necessary blood supply.

The lesions that develop as a result may help to explain the possible correlation between poor sleep quality and dementia, although more study is needed to create a definitive link.


So what is the takeaway?

dr-brownIf you want to minimize your risk of developing dementia as you age, seeking treatment for possible sleep apnea is a good place to start. As the medical community researches and develops a better understanding of sleep apnea, it is apparent that it can have both short term and long term side effects.

Sleep apnea is more than just an annoying habit that causes you to snore; you literally stop breathing in your sleep. It’s a serious condition that should be seen about immediately.

At Babylon Dental Care, we offer patients at-home sleep apnea testing kits where they can test themselves for sleep apnea from the comfort and convenience of their own home. No hospital visits or uncomfortable overnight sleep studies required.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t let sleep apnea contribute to memory loss as you age, call our location nearest you (Great South Bay or Patchogue) to schedule your sleep apnea appointment.