Sunday July 22, 2018

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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Sleep apnoea is a serious disorder characterized by regular pausing in breathing while sleeping.
Sleep apnoea is a serious disorder characterized by regular pausing in breathing while sleeping. Pixabay
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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)

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Scientists Develop Potential Approach to Treat Dementia, Stroke

"It also shows that these changes may be reversible, paving the way for potential treatments," Williams added

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The article provides information on the topic "Scientists Develop Potential Approach to Treat Dementia, Stroke". (IANS)

Stopping blood vessel cells from becoming dysfunctional may reverse the symptoms of small vessel disease (SVD) — major cause of dementia and stroke — and prevent brain damage in older adults, scientists have found.

The study, led by the University of Edinburgh, found that SVD occurs when cells that line the small blood vessels in the brain become dysfunctional causing them to secrete a molecule into the brain.

The molecule stops production of the protective layer that surrounds brain cells — called myelin — leading to brain damage.

“This important research helps us understand why small vessel disease happens, providing a direct link between small blood vessels and changes in the brain that are linked to dementia,” said Anna Williams from University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Scotland.

“It also shows that these changes may be reversible, paving the way for potential treatments,” Williams added.

1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia. Pixabay
1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia. Pixabay

In the study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team used rat model and found that treating them with drugs that can reverse changes in blood vessels in the brain associated with cerebral small vessel disease.

“The findings highlight a promising direction for research into treatments that could limit the damaging effects of blood vessel changes and help keep nerve cells functioning for longer,” said Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research in Britain.

Also Read: Sleep Disorder Linked with Brain Changes Found in Dementia

However, further studies are needed to test whether the treatment also works when the disease is firmly established, researchers said.

Dementia is one of the biggest problems facing society, as people live longer and the population ages.

Estimates indicate there are almost 47 million people living with dementia worldwide and the numbers affected are expected to double every 20 years, rising to more than 115 million by 2050. (IANS)