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Sleep Apnea Connected To Memory Loss

By June 17, 2008

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Photo © MicrosoftIf you've been meaning to see your doctor about your snoring (or if someone you live with is urging you to do so), now might be a good time.

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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November 3, 2008 at 6:04 am
(1) Brian says:

Obstructive sleep apnea(OSA) can cause breathing to stop several hundered times a night, often up to a minute or longer. Each apnea episode causes the death of cells due to oxygen deprivation and the build up of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide becomes carbonic acid which causes the blood to become very acidic.

This becomes critical with regard to the iron stores of the body. Iron atoms floating freely in the blood damage any body cells they come into contact with. The body protects itself with blood proteins (transferrin, ferritin, etc) than encases the iron rendering it harmless. However, high acidity in the blood will cause these proteins to release the iron leading to damage to the cells. Urate(uric acid) levels are higher in men than women. The urate binds to the free iron giving men greater protection. This explains the gender difference.

Eventually, OSA turns the iron into ferric oxide. The higher ferric oxide levels are one of the hallmark characteristics of the disease. Ferric oxide is otherwise known as magnetite and hematite. It is the magnetic fields associated with this compound that leads to the plaques and tangles.

The dementia of Alzheimer’s and cerebrovascular deficiency begin with the sleep breathing disorders. That is my guess.

January 4, 2009 at 12:20 pm
(2) Jeff says:

Brian, you may desire to change that to ANY form of apnea. It is not just OSA, but any form of apnea that would possibly kill the continuous flow of air.

The “dr”. that looked at my sleep study said I have OSA. I used a BiPap. Now I know I have central. I stop breathing sitting upright and wide awake. Almost trance like.

And at 39 yrs old, I feel the effects of ALZ and everything involved.

March 27, 2009 at 9:05 pm
(3) Casey says:

I really don’t understand what is going on with me. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea in the Army. I was diagnosed with 133 episodes. They gave me a CPAP machine on 10 cfms.. I have been using it for 6 years. I am 37 now. And currently I don’t remember hardly anything at all. Even emotionally.
I have lost long term memories as well as not being able to store stuff that has happened recently.
I also have a very hard problem of just coming up with proper words while talking. It is like my brain goes into a fog wall, and I get hung up… And I lose all the associative words at the same time.
It has put a strain on my marriage because the wife thinks I should know specific events, and I don’t. And I feel emotinally stunted because I am partially not feeling anything anymore… The increase in my apathy is distressing.
I also repeat myself as I speak like I have never said the words prior.

Oh, before I forget…..

April 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm
(4) alzheimers says:

Thanks everyone for sharing your comments and experiences. Casey, I’m wondering if in addition to your sleep apnea that you may have suffered a head injury during your service with the Army? If you have not already been to a doctor about your symptoms, I would strongly recommend seeing a physician who can try to figure out the cause of your memory loss and other issues. Best of luck and thank you so much for serving our country!

- Carrie

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