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Study Links Sleep Apnea To Higher Risk Of Dementia For Older Women

In a disturbing finding, a study has found that elderly women who have sleep apnea are more at risk to develop dementia.

The study, published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation, involved nearly 300 women who were dementia-free before the research.

And as it turned out, those subjects who had 15 or more apnea incidents per hour had an 85 percent better chance of experiencing mild cognitive impairment or dementia over the next five years.

When someone has sleep apnea, they briefly stop breathing, and therefore their brains briefly aren’t getting oxygen. Researchers have speculated that this may affect “the way the brain constantly replenishes its cells,” according to USA Today.

Of the 298 women in the study, 105 were tested and found to suffer from sleep apnea. Five years following the study, researchers gave all the women cognitive tests. And when the results were compared, the women who had “sleep-disordered breathing” had a much greater chance of developing dementia and cognitive impairment, according to USA Today.

The study determined that only 31 percent of the women who had regular night-time breathing wound up with cognitive troubles, versus 45 percent of the women who had sleep apnea. USA Today did the math, and wrote “that translate to 85 percent higher relative odds of cognitive impairment.”

The experts say that lots more research needs to be done on this topic.

 For example, one researcher suggested that dementia may cause sleep apnea, not the other way around.

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