Australian researchers have warned that snoring could triple the risk of dementia after a first-of-its-kind study.
Many suffer from snoring, which occurs as a result of a sleep disorder characterized by shallow or short-term breathing, resulting in suffocation or loud snoring when breathing resumes.
This condition is called “sleep apnea”, and is the most common sleep disorder, and the condition occurs when the muscles and tissues in the throat relax, leading to bronchial obstruction, which is twice as common in men than women, and can be experienced by a person at any age, including childhood.
Professor Elizabeth Coulson of the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland and her team followed a group of people with sleep apnea, aged 55 to 75.
The research team found that low oxygen levels during sleep can damage nerve cells, and triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, which slowly kills brain cells.
As the researchers used the mask of “Continuous Positive Airways Pressure” to achieve development, and concluded that it is able to maintain the airway and maintain the level of oxygen needed, and ultimately the quality of sleep better.
“Treating sleep apnea may reduce the risk of dementia,” Coulson said, noting that “people with sleep apnea are two to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, and this may be due to a lack of oxygen, as low levels in the blood due to bad breathing, causes nerve cell death”.
The second phase of the research involves following patients with long-term respiratory sleep apnea, to see if the plastic mask can protect them from cognitive decline.