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Sleep apnea symptoms linked to memory problems, thinking problems: Study | health news


People with sleep apnea may be more likely to have problems with memory or thinking, according to a preliminary study presented at the 76th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April this year. Presentations will be made in person in Denver and online April 13-18, 2024. The study found a favorable association but did not determine whether sleep apnea causes cognitive decline.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is when people stop and start breathing repeatedly during sleep, which can reduce oxygen levels in the blood. Symptoms include snoring, wheezing and shortness of breath. People with this disorder may experience morning headaches or have trouble concentrating on tasks. “Sleep apnea is a common disorder that is often underdiagnosed, yet treatable,” says Dominic Lowe, MD, MPH, of Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our study found that participants with symptoms of sleep apnea were more likely to have problems with memory or thinking.”

Sleep Apnea: Studies and Results

The study involved 4,257 people. Participants completed a questionnaire asking about sleep quality as well as memory and thinking problems. For sleep, participants were asked about snoring, gasping, or pauses in breathing during their sleep. For memory and thinking, participants were asked questions about difficulty remembering, periods of confusion, difficulty concentrating, or problems making decisions.

Of all participants, 1,079 reported symptoms of sleep apnea. Among those with symptoms, 357 people, or 33 percent, reported problems with memory or thinking compared to 628, or 20 percent of people without sleep apnea symptoms. After adjusting for other factors that can affect memory and thinking problems, such as age, race, gender and education, the researchers found that people who reported sleep apnea symptoms were about 50 percent more likely to have memory or thinking problems than people who did not. Those who did not have symptoms of sleep apnea.

Also read: In 2024, make a resolution to ensure 8 hours of sleep

“These findings highlight the importance of early screening for sleep apnea,” Lowe said. “Effective treatments such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are readily available. Eating a healthy diet, as well as quality sleep, regular exercise, social engagement and cognitive stimulation, can ultimately reduce a person’s risk of thinking and memory problems, improving their quality of life. .”
Limitations of the study include that the data were taken from a survey and that participants reported their symptoms rather than being assessed by medical professionals. Additional research is needed following people with sleep apnea, memory, and thinking symptoms over time

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