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Taiwan Study finding connection between Sleep Apnea & some cases of Bipolar Disorder
Poor Sleep & Alzheimer's
Breathing problems during sleep may signal an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, a trio of studies suggests.
And, the researchers added, treating conditions like sleep apnea and hypopnea (shallow breathing) might lower the risk of dementia, or at least slow its progression.
"What's exciting about these three studies is that they are looking at biological changes in the brain that may underlie a relationship between sleep problems and Alzheimer's disease," said Keith Fargo. He is director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer's Association.
Fargo cautioned, however, that these studies only show an association between sleep problems and Alzheimer's disease, and not a cause-and-effect link.
But it's possible that the development of the amyloid plaque that is a tell-tale sign of Alzheimer's is causing sleep problems, he noted.
People with sleep apnea should get treatment, Fargo said, because "even if you don't have Alzheimer's disease and will never develop it, sleep apnea itself can cause cognitive [thinking] problems, which can be turned around with treatment."
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Sleep apnea affects three in 10 men and one in five women; it occurs when the upper airway closes partially or fully, causing pauses in breathing during sleep, the researchers explained.
In the study, sleep apnea was associated with increased development of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain.
According to the researchers, sleep problems accelerate the development of amyloid plaque in both people without dementia and in those already suffering from dementia.
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"Since effective treatment measures exist for sleep disturbances, and sleep apnea especially, one way to potentially prevent Alzheimer's disease and/or its progression will be to effectively treat sleep apnea," Bubu said.