Sleep apnea -- a condition characterized by frequent cessations of breathing throughout the night -- often results in loud snoring and daytime fatigue. But researchers at UCLA recently found that the consequences of sleep apnea can also include damage to brain tissue in areas that store memories.
The researchers will conduct additional studies to find out how sleep apnea destroys brain tissue, but they think that the oxygen deprivation and inflammation that occur with each sleep apnea event (cessation of breathing) causes brain cells to die.
Sleep apnea has already been tied to an increased risk for stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. Interestingly, sleep apnea is relatively common among people with Alzheimer's disease. It would be interesting to know whether those with sleep apnea during Alzheimer's also had sleep apnea before they developed the disease.
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