AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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Sleep Apnea May Increase Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may put elderly people at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to new research.

In “Obstructive Sleep Apnea Severity Affects Amyloid Burden in Cognitively Normal Elderly: A Longitudinal Study,” researchers report that biomarkers for amyloid beta (Ab), the plaque-building peptides associated with Alzheimer’s disease, increase over time in elderly adults with OSA in proportion to OSA severity. Thus, individuals with more apneas per hour had greater accumulation of brain amyloid over time.

According to the authors, AD is a neurodegenerative disorder that afflicts approximately five million older Americans. OSA is even more common, afflicting from 30 to 80 percent of the elderly, depending on how OSA is defined.

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