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Treating sleep apnea in Alzheimer's patients helps cognition
Date:12/3/2008

the same study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society in 2006 had shown that CPAP also reduced daytime sleepiness, a common complaint of Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.

A CPAP machine is a breathing assist device worn over the mouth or nose, providing constant pressurized air and giving nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from sleep apnea. Participants were randomized to either therapeutic CPAP for six weeks, or a placebo CPAP for three weeks followed by therapeutic CPAP for an additional three weeks. Both groups received a complete battery of neuropsychological tests before treatment, at three and at six weeks.

A comparison of the randomized subjects receiving therapy over the first three-week period did not result in a statistically significant improvement in cognition, although all measures changed in the expected directions. However, after the placebo group was switched to therapeutic CPAP treatment, the group as a whole showed a significant improvement in cognition after three weeks of treatment.

Ancoli-Israel explained the discrepancy, stating that because of the smaller size of the first group of subjects the half measured after three weeks on the therapy a statistically significant difference couldn't be shown. However, when the before-CPAP scores of the entire group of Alzheimer patients were compared to post-therapy scores, the larger sample size demonstrated improved cognition.

"The change in scores for individual tests suggested improvements in verbal learning and memory as well as some aspects of executive function such as cognitive flexibility and mental processing speed," said Ancoli-Israel.

A relationship between symptoms of OSA and cognitive impairment has been identified in normal adults as well as in patients with dementia. According to the study's authors, most past studies examining the effect of CPAP on OSA in patients without dementia have rep
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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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