Interruption of Sleep Quality Increases Risk Of Stroke and Leads to Cognitive Decline, Study Show

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A recent study indicates that people who snore and have disrupted sleep may experience a decline in brain health. For example, sleep apnea, a condition characterized by loud snoring and breathing blockages, is associated with a higher risk of stroke, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from the American Academy of Neurology stated that sleep apnea symptoms include interrupted breathing, gasping sounds and choking, and restlessness during sleep.

Reduced sleep linked to brain ageing                           

Furthermore, the study reveals that a 10% decrease in deep sleep corresponds to brain ageing by 2.3 years. Another study conducted by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Paris-Cité, France, reports that 20.2% of individuals suffer from sleep apnea, but only 3.5% receive treatment.

Biomarkers in the brain’s white matter can be used to measure its health. These biomarkers include white matter hyperintensities, small lesions that can be seen on brain scans. These lesions are more common as people age or if they have uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Dr Diego Carvalho from the Mayo Clinic highlights the significance of biomarkers as sensitive indicators of early cerebrovascular disease. The study involved 140 participants with obstructive sleep apnea, averaging 73 years of age, who underwent brain scans and overnight sleep monitoring.

Decreased sleep increases white matter hyperintensities

The findings revealed a connection between reduced slow-wave sleep, severe sleep apnea, and these biomarkers. Given the lack of treatment for these brain changes, the research emphasizes the need to identify preventive measures. The participants did not exhibit cognitive issues or dementia at the study’s outset or conclusion.

According to Carvalho, there is a need for further research to determine if sleep issues affect brain biomarkers or if it’s the other way around. Additionally, exploring whether improving sleep quality or treating sleep apnea can influence these biomarkers is important.

The sleep study found that decreased deep sleep was linked to increased white matter hyperintensities, equivalent to ageing 2.3 years per 10 per cent decrease. In addition, participants with severe sleep apnea had more white matter hyperintensities and showed decreased integrity in their brain’s axons.

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