Treating sleep may improve brain function in Alzheimer's patients

A new clinical trial has shown that treating a patient's sleep apnea may improve their cognitive function, thus providing a form of Alzheimer's care.

Doctors at University of California in San Diego examined 52 men and women with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, who also suffered from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Treating sleep may improve brain function in Alzheimer's patients

By using Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment, and then testing the patients later, researchers saw an improvement in cognitive functioning in patients with the condition that attacks one's brain.

"This study, which showed significant improvement in patients' neurological test scores after treatment with CPAP, suggests that clinicians who treat patients with Alzheimer's disease and sleep apnea should consider implementing CPAP treatment," said Dr Sonia Ancoli-Israel, lead researcher in the study.

Patients who use the CPAP machine wear it over their mouth or nose as the device provides constant pressurized air to give relief to sleep apnea sufferers.

"While CPAP by no means treats the underlying cause of Alzheimer's disease, by improving patients' sleep patterns, the hope is that their overall cognitive functioning can also improve," said Ancoli-Israel.

The prevalence of OSA in patients with dementia has been estimated to be as high as 70 to 80 percent.

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