Sleep apnea linked to cognitive difficulties

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may blame their daytime difficulties on simple sleepiness, but new research suggests that their brains may be to blame. Specifically, their cognitive challenges may be caused by structural deficits in gray matter, brought on by the intermittent oxygen deprivation that comes with OSA. The good news is that these deficits may be partially or fully reversible with early detection and treatment, according to Italian researchers.

“OSA patients demonstrate several neuropsychological impairments, but current knowledge of the brain structures affected by OSA is limited. This study provides the first evidence that structural brain abnormalities exist in regions susceptible to hypoxemia, and they can change with treatment,” said Vincenza Castronovo, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at the Sleep Disorders Center, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy.

The study was published online ahead of the print edition of the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Continue reading Sleep apnea linked to cognitive difficulties