(Steven Reinberg/ HealthDay ) — Millions of Americans are left drowsy each day by sleep apnea, and new research suggests it might also raise their odds for Alzheimer’s disease.
It isn’t clear, however, if sleep apnea causes the buildup of “tau” protein tangles in the brain that are a marker for Alzheimer’s, or if the increased tau helps cause the apnea, the researchers said.
“Since tau accumulation is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, an increase in tau raises concern that sleep apnea could make [people] with sleep apnea more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s,” said lead researcher Dr. Diego Carvalho, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The new study — to be presented at an upcoming meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) — is consistent with previous work suggesting that sleep apnea increases the risk for dementia, he said. (…)