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Sleep Apnea and The Brain

We came across an interesting article in the February/March 2012 edition of Neurology Now which linked obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with cognitive problems due to the decrease in blood oxygen saturation at night. A study done at the University of California, San Francisco, showed that OSA might contribute to dementia. The drops in blood oxygen (hypoxemia) which occur with sleep apnea puts a strain on all the tissues and organs of the body, especially the brain which uses about 20% of the body's oxygen supply! The study showed that those who experience repeated nighttime hypoxemia were more likely to develop dementia. The study also indicated that cognitive impairment might be partially reversible in some cases if treated. Another noteworthy part of this study is that all the patients tested were women and all were experiencing only mild to moderate OSA. So if mild OSA can contribute to dementia, think of what severe sleep apnea does to the brain!

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Posted by R. Sam Callender DDS | 3/12/2012 2:43:00 PM