Saturday May 25, 2019

Sleep Disorder Linked with Brain Changes Found in Dementia

There is no cure for dementia so early intervention is the key

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Less than 6 hours of sleep linked to hardened arteries Pixabay

A sleep disorder that causes repeated shallow or paused breathing may be associated with changes in brain structure that are also seen in the early stages of dementia.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), common among elderly, is a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, stopping breathing, and is known to reduce levels of oxygen in the blood. It has also been linked with heart diseases, strokes and cancer.

The new study suggested that the drop in oxygen may be linked to a shrinking of the brain’s temporal lobes and a corresponding decline in memory.

“Between 30 and 50 per cent of the risk for dementia is due to modifiable factors, such as depression, high blood pressure, obesity and smoking. In recent years, researchers have recognized that various sleep disturbances are also risk factors for dementia,” said lead author, Sharon Naismith, from the University of Sydney, Australia.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“We wanted to look specifically at obstructive sleep apnoea and its effects on the brain and cognitive abilities,” Naismith added.

In the study, published in European Respiratory Journal, the researchers analysed data from nearly 100 participants aged between 51 and 88 years, who had visited doctors with concerns over their memory or mood but had no OSA diagnosis.

The results showed that patients who had low levels of oxygen in their blood while they were sleeping tended to have reduced thickness in the left and right temporal lobes of the brain — regions known to be important in memory and affected dementia.

Also Read: Mild Sleep problems May up Blood Pressure in Women

Further, the team found that this alteration in the brain was linked with participant’s poorer ability to learn new information.

“There is no cure for dementia so early intervention is the key. On the other hand, we do have an effective treatment for OSA. This research shows that diagnosing and treating OSA could be an opportunity to prevent cognitive decline before it’s too late,” Naismith added. (IANS)

Next Story

US Researchers Finding Ways to Treat Dementia

Researchers are looking for ways to treat or prevent dementia, and a promising clinical trial is underway in the US

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alzheimer, dementia
Dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem throughout the world. Fifty million people suffer from dementia, and in the next 30 years, that number is expected to triple. Researchers are looking for ways to treat or prevent dementia. VOA

Dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem around the world. Fifty million people suffer from dementia, and in the next 30 years, that number is expected to triple. Researchers are looking for ways to treat or prevent dementia, and a promising clinical trial is underway in the U.S.

Dementia is not a normal part of aging, but age is a huge risk factor. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels help stave off dementia as we grow older

As people around the world live longer, health agencies and researchers are looking for ways to prevent, stop or treat dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most common types of dementia.

Promising clinical trial

David Shorr was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 56.He is about to undergo a new procedure that could treat early stage Alzheimer’s. He is with his doctor, Vibhor Krishna, a neurosurgeon at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

The procedure Shorr is about to have involves sound waves. Ultrasound waves target and open the blood-brain barrier — a protective layer that shields the brain from infections. But Krishna says the barrier also makes it hard to treat neurodegerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. “Opening the blood-brain barrier allows us to access more of the brain tissue and be able to increase the effectiveness or bioavailability of the therapeutics,” Krishna said.

Shorr and his wife, Kim, were willing to try any new treatment that might help with his dementia. Kim describes the couple’s reaction when they received a phone call inviting Shorr to participate in a clinical trial. “There’s this trial. Would you be interested?” she said, describing the call. “And without really knowing what it was, we said, Sure.’”

Ultrasound targets protein buildup

Shorr became one of 10 patients enrolled in the study. The trial tests MRI-guided imaging to target the part of the brain responsible for memory and cognition. Krishna explains that’s where Alzheimer’s patients have a buildup of toxic proteins called amyloid. “Higher deposition of amyloid goes hand in hand with loss of function in Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.

dementia, alzheimer
FILE – Dr. William Burke goes over a PET brain scan, Aug. 14, 2018, at Banner Alzheimers Institute in Phoenix. VOA

Krishna says this procedure might allow a patient’s own immune system to clear some of the amyloid. In this procedure, ultrasound wave pulses cause microscopic bubbles to expand and contract in the brain. “The increase and decrease in size of these microbubbles mechanically opens the blood-brain barrier,” Krishna said. The patient is awake during the procedure.

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Study could help others

Opening the barrier may one day allow doctors to deliver medication straight to the site of the disease. Kim Shorr realizes her husband might not benefit from this treatment.

“We’re hopeful it can help him, but we also know maybe it will help somebody else,” she said. Shorr is glad to be part of a study that could help others who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, even if it doesn’t help him. (VOA)