At a recent meeting of scientific experts, New York University researchers presented findings that show an association between the severity of sleep apnea and the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease.

In the study, the researchers used brain imaging of patients that suffer from brain-disordered breathing or sleep apnea and found that there is reduced metabolic activity in parts of the brain already known to be venerable to Alzheimer’s disease.

Apnea cases increase dramatically as a person ages, with 20 percent of adults suffering from the sleep disorder. In people over age 65, the rates rise as much as 60 percent.

Additional research will be needed to confirm a link between Alzheimer’s and apnea, but the researchers hope that the link could be an additional way that doctors can pinpoint those at risk for dementia related diseases.

As anyone with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease knows, any methods of early detection or research that points towards a cause brings us just one step closer to finding a cure for the heartbreaking disease.

Ramie A Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT