If you think snoring is limited to disturbing your bed partner, it's certainly not. A recent study shows how people who snore are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
A recent study showed that people with sleep apnea had a build up of proteins in their brain that triggers Alzheimer's. The protein is formed due to obstructed breathing from heavy snoring as a result of sleep apnea.
"Several studies have suggested that sleep disturbances might contribute to amyloid deposits and accelerate cognitive decline in those at risk for Alzheimer's disease," said Ricardo S. Osorio, MD, senior study author and assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine.
The New York University researchers found a link between the sleep disorder and Alzheimer's after conducting a study of 208 mentally healthy people, aged 55 to 90.
According to the new research published online in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine: "None of the participants was referred by a sleep center, used continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to treat sleep apnea, was depressed, or had a medical condition that might affect their brain function."
They, however, found that more than half of the participants had obstructive sleep apnea, including 36.5 percent with mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and 16.8 percent with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.
The researchers found it by performing spinal taps in order to analyse the amount of amyloid in their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that protects the spine and brain. Then they scanned the brain of the participants to measure deposits of the toxic protein directly in the brain.
Half the participants, that is, 104 people affected with sleep apnea were then followed for two years and they found a link between sleep apnea severity and an increase in amyloid deposits in the brain.
Dr Ricardo Osorio said: "Results from this study, and the growing literature suggesting that OSA, cognitive decline and AD are related, may mean that age tips the known consequences of OSA from sleepiness, cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunction to brain impairment."
"If this is the case, then the potential benefit of developing better screening tools to diagnose OSA in the elderly who are often asymptomatic is enormous," he added.
The next step in research is to determine whether CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine--an oxygen mask used to combat sleep apnea will be able to decrease amyloid proteins accumulation to the brain and the likelihood of Alzheimer's disease.