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Study finds reduced brain gray matter concentration in patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea
Date:2/1/2010

by overnight polysomnography. The OSA patients had a mean apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of 52.5 partial and complete breathing pauses per hour of sleep; an AHI of more than 30 is considered severe OSA. Patients with OSA also had more awakenings from sleep and a more fragmented sleep structure than controls.

Surprisingly, gray matter concentration was decreased in OSA patients without significant changes in gray matter volume. According to the authors, frequent episodes of nocturnal hypoxemia and hypercarbia induce vasodilation and disturbances in the autoregulation of the brains of OSA patients. Therefore, changes in the brain volume of OSA patients may be obscured by increased cerebral blood volume or whole brain water content from OSA-induced changes in autoregulation.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, OSA is a sleep-related breathing disorder that involves a decrease or complete halt in airflow despite an ongoing effort to breathe. It occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway. This leads to partial reductions (hypopneas) and complete pauses (apneas) in breathing that can produce abrupt reductions in blood oxygen saturation. Most people with OSA snore loudly and frequently, and they often experience excessive daytime sleepiness. The treatment of choice for OSA is CPAP therapy, which provides a steady stream of air through a mask that is worn during sleep. This airflow keeps the airway open to prevent pauses in breathing and restore normal oxygen levels.

The authors noted that more research is needed to determine if gray matter concentration loss occurs as a consequence of sleep apnea, or if preexisting abnormalities may contribute to the development of the disorder.


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Contact: Kelly Wagner
kwagner@aasmnet.org
708-492-0930
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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