A study on the risks of developing dementia on the background of sleep apnea was conducted by scientists from the University of Queensland. Sleep apnea is a disease in which a person holds his breath during sleep at night. Pathology is characterized by loud shoveling when breathing is restored. Often people do not even know that they sleep badly. And this can lead to serious health problems. After all, the brain does not receive proper ventilation and suffers from hypoxia (lack of oxygen).
Scientists conducted a study on mice. “We found that sleep deprivation itself causes mild cognitive impairment in mice,” said Prof. Elizabeth Coulson. At the same time, they developed a special method that allows you to induce breathing disorders during sleep in test rodents, similar to the mechanism of sleep apnea. As a result of the application of this technology, it turned out that mice show exacerbated pathological signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers came to the conclusion that the cause is hypoxia, against which there is a selective degeneration (negative change) of neurons, which is also characteristic of dementia. Next, scientists plan to find out what levels of hypoxia will cause brain damage in humans.
Older people, the authors of the work emphasized, suffer from apnea in 50% of cases, when the muscles of the throat subside (reduce in volume) and block the airways, leading to a stop and resumption of breathing.
Sleep apnea is treated with a special CPAP technique that allows you to keep your airways open during the night. For mice, there is no such development, so scientists had to experimentally influence hypoxia in rodents. They succeeded, and it turned out that cognitive impairment and neuronal death stopped when breathing was restored.
Of course, not all people with sleep apnea develop dementia. In this regard, scientists are planning further work to also determine the risk group.
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