Does Sleep Apnea Increase the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes a person to temporarily stop breathing while they sleep. People with sleep apnea usually snore loudly—so loudly that it can be disruptive to others sleeping in the house. In fact, it is often other people who notice when a person has sleep apnea. But, sleep apnea isn’t just an irritating sleep disorder, it can be dangerous. Recently, researchers conducted a study that showed people with sleep apnea may be more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleep Apnea and Alzheimer’s Study

The study was conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. 288 people who were over the age of 65 participated. None of them had signs of cognitive problems. 43 of the participants had symptoms of sleep apnea. Brain scans showed that the participants with sleep apnea had 4.5 percent more of a protein called tau in their brains, specifically in the part of the brain that controls memory. Tau is one of the proteins that collects in the brains of people who have Alzheimer’s disease.

This study wasn’t the first to link sleep apnea with Alzheimer’s disease. In another study conducted by the New York University School of Medicine, researchers found that people with sleep apnea had more amyloid deposits, another kind of protein cluster that points to Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s important to note that the research doesn’t prove that having sleep apnea causes Alzheimer’s disease. But, it does suggest that sleep apnea increases the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

More Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea has also been associated with several other health problems, including:

  • High Blood Pressure: Sleep apnea can make existing cases of high blood pressure worse.
  • Heart Disease: The stress of waking often or the lack of oxygen may put a strain on the heart.
  • Diabetes: Sleep apnea increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Acid Reflux: People with sleep apnea often complain of acid reflux symptoms.
  • Liver Problems: Those with sleep apnea often have abnormal results on their liver tests and scarring on their livers.
  • Daytime Sleepiness: Having sleep apnea can cause sleepiness during the day. As a result, they may be more irritable and prone to accidents.

Having a home care provider for your aging relative could mean spotting the signs of sleep apnea. A home care provider who stays overnight with the older adult or is present during naps can listen for episodes of interrupted breathing and report them to family caregivers. Home care providers can also help seniors with sleep apnea to manage the condition by helping them to properly use a CPAP machine and keep it clean.


If you are considering hiring home care in Morgan, UT, for an aging loved one, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors of Ogden, UT. Call today 801-821-4535.