Link Between Sleep Apnea and Dementia
By Winchester Neurological Consultants
August 16, 2021
Category: Mental health
Tags: Sleep Apnea   Dementia  

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you are at high risk of developing dementia. The physicians at Winchester Neurological Consultants, located in Winchester, VA, treat sleep apnea to decrease your risk for developing mental conditions such as dementia.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a failure to breathe during sleep and can be either obstructive or non-obstructive. With obstructive sleep apnea, your breathing fails because an open airway was unable to open up despite the brain telling it to. However, with central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send that signal causing your breathing muscles to slow.

Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea

The body requires sleep for it to repair and restore itself actively. If you experience sleep apnea, you lack oxygen during sleep, which interferes with cognitive functions like memory formation, blood pressure regulation, and weight control. The physicians at Winchester Neurological Consultants, of Winchester, VA, know these risks and would be able to evaluate you for both sleep apnea and dementia.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome that causes a progressive decline in one's ability to think, remember, hold conversations, perform certain activities of daily living, and live independently. Alzheimer's disease causes most cases of dementia.

Why Does Sleep Apnea Place You at Greater Risk for Dementia?

Studies show that sleep apnea is tied to alterations of brain structure that are seen in early dementia. For example, the reduction of oxygen discussed above may be linked to the thinning of your brain's temporal regions associated with memory decline.

Obstructive sleep apnea already increases your risk of developing other chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. In addition, since dementia and obstructive sleep apnea worsen with age, you see the most significant link between the two conditions in the elderly.

How Can I Prevent Developing Dementia?

Most often, your risk of dementia increases when modifiable risk factors are present such as:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Depression
  • Hypertension

You can treat obstructive sleep apnea with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device that continuously blows air via a face mask to keep your airway open. By treating sleep apnea, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing dementia. However, early intervention is key to its prevention because there is no cure for dementia.

Suppose you were suffering from sleep apnea and are worried about your risk of developing dementia. In that case, it is time to call Winchester Neurological Consultants at their office located in Winchester, VA, to make a consultation appointment at (540) 667-1828.

Comments: