New study finds a link between sleep apnoea and increased risk of dementia

December 4, 2020

A study undertaken by an Australian university has found that severe obstructive sleep apnoea has been linked to an increased risk of dementia.

The research, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that severe obstructive sleep apnoea is linked to an increase in the protein beta-amyloid in the brain – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (which is the most common form of dementia).

The small-scale study involved a group of 34 individuals recently diagnosed with untreated obstructive sleep apnoea, and 12 individuals who were asymptomatic for sleep disorders. It explored associations using a PET brain scan, and measures of sleep, demographics, and mood.

It was found that the obstructive sleep apnoea group recorded high levels of beta-amyloid, as well as poorer sleep efficiency.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder, affecting about 1 billion people worldwide and is caused by the collapse of the airway during sleep, resulting in intermittent dips in oxygen levels and arousals from sleep.

Dr Melinda Jackson, who led the study said “The significance of finding the association between increased brain amyloid in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea will allow for further research to explore in more detail the implications of treating obstructive sleep apnoea for reducing dementia risk”.

If you’re interested in this topic, you can find more information in our Sleep pillar, and by signing up to stay updated on the latest news and evidence.

You can also find more details of this study by following the links below: