Heart Disease, Dementia and Sleep Apnea

Here’s an interesting study showing that the presence of heart disease may predict dementia better than cognitive tests. This finding is not surprising since we know that untreated obstructive sleep apnea can cause major injury to multiple areas of the brain. We also know that the older you get, the more likely you’ll develop sleep apnea. In fact, based on some recent population studies, more than half of people over 50 had some degrees of sleep apnea. 


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7 thoughts on “Heart Disease, Dementia and Sleep Apnea

  1. The “normal” way to study the effects of Obstuctive Sleep Apnea is to remove oxygen from the air for a time to induce hypoxia. In a study done at Baylor College of Medicine where actual apnea was induced in mice the results showed severe brain damage in a month (see: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120423131756.htm ).

    Yes the apnea results in hypoxia. Strange thing here – why do those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea loose oxygen in their blood so quickly when respiration is stopped??!!

    Perhaps is it the bodies reaction to Obstructive Sleep Apnea that most does the damage.

    I am suspicious that it is the hypocapnic excersions that actually do the most damage. After the apnea often comes a time of “recovery” which overshoots moving rather quickly from hypercapnia through eucapnia to hypocapna and then long term tending toward the hypocapnic realm probably due to the increase in stress hormones.

    I hope we find the cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea so we can not only cure it but prevent it!

  2. Additional Note: I believe the vascular gymnastics caused by hypocapnea are the most likely cause of Dementia from Obstructive Sleep Apnea – see:

    Philip N. Ainslie and James Duffin, Integration of cerebrovascular CO2 reactivity and chemoreflex control of breathing: mechanisms of regulation, measurement, and interpretation Published online before print February 11, 2009, doi: 10.​1152/​ajpregu.​91008.​2008 AJP – Regu Physiol May 2009 vol. 296 no. 5 R1473-R1495
    Link: http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/296/5/R1473.long

  3. And the presence of Male Pattern Baldness is likely to be a precursor symptom to Heart Disease, and hair loss may have a strong relationship to Sleep Apnea which foments the Heart Disease, which foments Dementia.

    The kicker is maybe Sleep Breathing Disorders (UARS and OSA) is the underlying culprit to be treated. Again, Airway, Airway, Airway.

    Why in applying First Aid it is apparent to assess the A first, AIRWAY, and totally ignore any semblence of AIRWAY in modern medicine, body active and at rest. It should be apparent 84 billion neurons and glial cells and trilions of connections require a lot of oxygen to maintain function and be healthy. Let alone the other parts of the body.

  4. I am reminded how much pulse oximeter guided eucapnic breathing has helped my airway. I have found that one of the first signs that I am over breathing is a stuffed up nose.

    I was driven to learn about eucapnic breathing by Post Tramatic Stress(PTS). Stress quite apparently raised my tendency to breath more air moving my carbon dioxide levels into the hypocapnic realm often and chronically under the influence of my PTS.

    But by using pulse oximeter guided eucapnic breathing I not only got my heart rate under control but was also able to enjoy the smell of flowers all summer long. No more “summer allergies”! I do believe that good circulation does promote the sense of smell.

    So perhaps instead of “Airway, Airway, Airway” it should be “breathing control, breathing control, breathing control”. Looking further to the cause of the breathing control issues perhaps it should be “stress, stress, stress”.

    Stress from crazy sleep schedules. Stress from a greatly mis-managed food supply (from before seed to mouth). Stress from a lack of compassion in our midst. Stress from grossly violent entertainment. Stress from mis-managing stress (e.g. lack of active lifestyle). Stress from not knowing how to breath properly.

  5. The study below was released by Henry Ford Hospital, in Detroit and the University of Nebraska: The link below was from NBC news, Jan. 2013. It said snoring ALONE beat out sleep apnea for greatest predictor of heart disease. The reason is is that the carotid artery (main artery between head and neck) thickens due to the vibration of snoring.

    “Nightly News | January 26, 2013

    Snoring could indicate heart disease
    For the first time, doctors say that snoring alone may be an indicator of heart disease – likening it to other well-known risk factors such as sleep apnea, obesity, smoking and high cholesterol. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.”

    Also the following link from Medical News Today (“Snoring Can Affect the Carotid Artery”) has a similar write up that is very interesting comparing the new study to old studies that said snoring wasn’t a factor:

    Closer to home, my brother-in-law who is diagnosed with severe sleep apena but hasn’t found successful treatment yet, just suffered sudden loss of vision in one of his eyes due to his carotid artery. Some of it came back but he is now at 50% vision loss in that eye.

    When I was at the ENT’s office for UARS & apnea the ENT asked me how long I had broken blood vessels in my right eye. He said the cause was from sleep apnea.

  6. Asked by Christopher on April 5th, 2013 2:37 pm: “May I request where the pulse oximeter test point is located?”

    The finger tip pulse oximeter needs to be close to heart level in order to obtain the most reliable heart rates. The arm and hand muscles need to be more or less at rest. What I noticed while doing this is that the oxygen saturation reading (SpO2) was very useful to “guide” me to the lowest heart rates.

    At my computer back then an SpO2 reading of 96% would always correlate with the lowest heart rate while controlling breathing. On a treadmill back then (moderate exertion held constant) an SpO2 of 97% consistently correlated with the lowest heart rate.

    Now each reading appears to have dropped down a notch (95% and 96% respectively) which may be due to better conditioning now or perhaps a change in altitude (300′ vs 2500′).