In my last post, I described a Swedish study which explained how low testosterone could be caused by obstructive sleep apnea. In another Swedish study, midlife stress was shown to be associated with significantly higher levels of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These stresses included workplace problems, serious illness, divorce, and widowhood. Alzheimer’s developed in 21% of women who were followed for an average of 38 years.
We know from another study that 60% of Swedish women over aged 60 has obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is known to cause major brain damage, which can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Is it possible that underlying untreated obstructive sleep apnea could have aggravated some of these midlife stresses (and illnesses), as well to cause later development of dementia?
There are lots of studies that show a strong link between brain damage and untreated obstructive sleep apnea. However, there has yet to be a study published showing that treating obstructive sleep apnea can prevent or delay dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. That study will deserve the Nobel Prize.