Older women who have difficulty breathing when asleep are more likely to develop dementia, according to a study published in the journal JAMA.
The research at the University of California involved 298 women without dementia with an average age of 82. Over four years scientists measured hypoxia, a condition in which cells and tissues do not have enough oxygen, as well as sleep fragmentation and duration.
35.2 per cent of the women involved in the study were found to have breathing disorders during sleep. At the end of the study, 44.8 per cent of the women with these disorders had mild cognitive impairment or dementia, compared with 31.1 per cent of those without the disorders.
Alzheimer’s Society comment:
‘This large study builds on previous work showing that older people who have breathing disorders during sleep have an increased risk of dementia. It also supports the theory that this is due to less oxygen reaching the brain while the person is asleep. It is therefore vital that we identify and treat breathing disorders during sleep to help reduce the risk of dementia in later life.’
‘People can cut down their likelihood of developing dementia by up to a third by eating a good diet, keeping a healthy weight and taking regular exercise. It’s also important to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly.’
Dr Anne Corbett Research Manager Alzheimer’s Society
Research Reference: Yaffe et al, ‘Sleep-Disordered Breathing, Hypoxia, and Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Older Women’, published in JAMA, August 20, 2011