Using a CPAP machine can reduce your risk of dementia – a better life

Dementia can affect anyone and there is currently no cure for it. However, some habits can help reduce your chances of developing cognitive decline later in life. In addition to eating right, exercising regularly, and maintaining social connections, there are other ways to maintain your cognitive health by changing your lifestyle. Keep reading to find out what it is and its other key health benefits.

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Extensive studies examining the link between sleep and cognitive health have identified a link between sleep disorders and dementia. For example, a study published in 2021 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which looked at data on the health and sleep of more than 8,000 people in Britain, found that people aged 50 and 60 who slept poorly were at higher risk of developing dementia later. . In fact, those who slept six hours or less each night were 30 percent more likely to be at risk than those who slept longer.

“Studies show that insufficient sleep duration increases the risk of dementia and emphasizes the importance of good sleep habits,” the researchers wrote.

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A person with heart disease holding his chest

While many underlying conditions can lead to poor sleep, the culprit for about 30 million Americans is sleep apnea, which results in periodic pauses in breathing during sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may experience between five and 15 hours of rest per hour. At the same time, people with severe apnea may experience these breaks at an alarming 30 times per hour. This is a break every two minutes.

Each time, the body responds to stress, which raises your blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate. Over time, this can cause serious damage to your heart and lead to serious coronary problems, health officials warn. By eliminating breathing breaks, you can also eliminate stressful reactions and reduce the risk of complications.

CPAP mask for sleep apnea middle-aged white man
Shutterstock / Brian Chase

Using a CPAP device at night (short for a continuous positive air pressure machine) can make all the difference in the quality of your sleep. These machines work by pumping humid air through the nose and keeping the food open with air pressure, making breathing breaks much less frequent.

But doctors say the benefits don’t stop there. “Numerous studies have shown that regular use of CPAP lowers blood pressure and improves waking during the day,” write Johns Hopkins Medicine. “People with sleep apnea who use CPAP also report improved quality of life. Some observational studies have compared people with sleep apnea with those who do not use CPAP, and CPAP users have a lower risk of stroke and heart attack and lower blood glucose,” they added.

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The hand of a senior patient holding a Cpap mask in a hospital room.  Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

Although there is no cure for dementia, experts say that people with mild cognitive impairment and sleep apnea can slow the development of dementia with the help of CPAP devices.

A study published in 2022 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Among older people with sleep apnea and mild cognitive impairment, apnea treatment has been found to reduce the risk of future diagnosis of mental retardation. Specifically, using a CPAP machine at night can help improve short-term memory.

A separate study in 2021 by researchers at the Michigan Medical Center for Sleep Disorders found similar results. After reviewing Medicare claims of more than 50,000 elderly people with OSA, they found that those who used CPAP devices were less likely to be diagnosed with dementia or mild cognitive impairment than those who did not use machines. “We found a significant association between a decrease in Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia over a three-year period using positive airway pressure, which positive airway pressure may protect against the risk of dementia in people with OSA,” the author said. Halit Levi DunitzPhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Sleep Epidemiologist.

Talk to your doctor about whether CPAP is right for you, and they may suggest a cognitive decline to discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing.

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