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Study links obstructive sleep apnoea to increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

Study links obstructive sleep apnoea to increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers have found that older people with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) may be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

AD is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is a progressive neurological disease which affects multiple brain functions, including memory, and the exact cause of AD is unknown.

In a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, scientists studied health data of 208 people aged 55 to 90. More than half of the people in the study were found to have mild or moderate-to-severe OSA.

104 people from the original group were followed up for two years. Researchers found that those with OSA were more likely to have increased levels of amyloid deposits in the brain.  Amyloids are a type of protein known to be involved in the development of AD.

People with OSA who experienced more sleep disturbances per hour had a greater accumulation of amyloid deposits over time, but researchers state that the severity of OSA did not predict whether people with OSA were more or less likely to develop AD.

Based on the findings, the researchers hope to develop better screening tools for diagnosing sleep apnoea in older people who may be more at risk of AD.

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