Alzheimer's disease: people with sleep apnea are more at risk

Sleep apnea has been associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

In a new study, sleep apnea has been associated with greater accumulation of tau protein in the brain, which in turn correlates with a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease. "Recent research has linked sleep apnea to increased risk of dementia, so our study investigated whether apnea observed during sleep could be related to deposition of tau protein in the brain," the researchers said. in preamble.

"Problem of the egg and the hen"

The study involved 288 people aged 65 and over, who did not suffer from cognitive impairment. Their possible respiratory arrest was recorded by their spouse for several nights. It turned out that 15% of the cohort suffered from sleep apnea, and that these patients had an average of 4.5% more tau protein in the entorhinal cortex than the others.

"Our findings raise the possibility that sleep apnea affects tau protein accumulation" in the brain, said the trial director. "But it is also possible that higher levels of tau protein predispose a person to sleep apnea, so longer studies are now needed to solve this problem of the egg and the hen," he concludes. .

Deep sleep deprivation

In this regard, another study has also shown how the level of depth of sleep can affect the ability of our brain to effectively eliminate waste and toxic proteins that accumulate during the day. As sleep often becomes increasingly light and disrupted as we age, research potentially explains the links between aging, deep sleep deprivation and the increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease results from a slow degeneration of neurons, beginning in the hippocampus (an essential brain structure for memory) and extending to the rest of the brain. It is characterized by recent memory disorders, executive functions and orientation in time and space. The patient progressively loses cognitive abilities and autonomy. 900,000 people are affected in France, according to Inserm.