June 13, 2007 Patients with both Alzheimer disease and a sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD) experience disrupted sleep, resulting in increased nocturnal awakenings and a decreased percentage of REM sleep. However, in another example of the effectiveness of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), CPAP has been found to reduce the amount of time spent awake during the night, increase the time spent in deeper levels of sleep, and improve oxygenation, according to a recent study.
The study, conducted by Jana R. Cooke, MD, of the University of California at San Diego, was focused on 48 adults, with an average age of 77.8 years, with Alzheimer disease and an SRBD. It was discovered that treating the sleep-related breathing disorder with CPAP resulted in these patients spending less time awake during the night as well as sleeping deeper.
"In general, improved sleep is associated with improvements in quality of life," said Cooke. "Clinicians should consider CPAP treatment for Alzheimer disease patients with a sleep-related breathing disorder, as the potential benefits may be significant."
Persons who think they might be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), or another sleep disorder, are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician, who will refer them to a sleep specialist.
OSA affects an estimated 15 million to 20 million Americans, as well as millions more who remain undiagnosed and untreated.
Scientific evidence shows that CPAP is the best treatment for OSA. CPAP provides a steady stream of pressurized air to patients through a mask that they wear during sleep. This airflow keeps the airway open, preventing the pauses in breathing that characterize OSA and restoring normal oxygen levels.
This research was presented Monday at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
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