Sleep Apnea Worsens Dementia In Elderly Women

Here’s an important study that must be taken seriously. Researchers from UCSF and various other institutions showed that in elderly women, having sleep apnea significantly increases your risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia compared to those women who don’t have sleep apnea. In a study of 298 women as part of an osteoporosis study that underwent sleep studies, 105 (32%) were found to have significant obstructive sleep apnea (AHI >15). After 5 years, women with sleep apnea had a higher rate of cognitive impairment or dementia (44.8%) than those without sleep apnea (31.1%).

Knowing what we already know about sleep apnea and how it can ravage the brain, these results are not surprising.

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4 thoughts on “Sleep Apnea Worsens Dementia In Elderly Women

  1. ah, but what was the AHI for the cognitively impaired group “without sleep apnea”? what was the RDI?

  2. Dr. Deb,

    Great point. Their cutoff for defining sleep apnea was an AHI of 15. They don’t take into consideration any of the smaller, more subtle breathing problems such as RERAs, flow limitations, and other types of arousals. So in theory, they could have 30 obstructions per hour (each lasting 1-9 seconds) and be categorized into the group without sleep apnea. 31% of women in the group without sleep apnea still developed dementia, compared to 45% in the group that had an AHI > 15.