Simple snoring cure could also slash risk of dementia by more than a third, researchers say
- Experts tracked 50,000 patients with sleep apnoea — which causes snoring
- Snorers who had CPAP seemed to have better protection against dementia
- CPAP involves wearing a mask at night that is connected to a bedside machine
- The treatment, which costs around £500, pumps pressurised air into the throat
- Experts say the research did not prove a link between snoring and dementia
A cheap and simple cure for snoring could also slash the risk of dementia by more than a third, researchers have found.
Snorers who had the treatment, called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), seemed to have better protection against the incurable illness.
CPAP involves wearing a mask at night connected to a bedside machine, costing around £500, that pumps pressurised air into the throat.
This stops soft tissue in the throat from collapsing during sleep.
Scientists think the machines may cut dementia risk by boosting oxygen supply to the brain.
Snorers who had the treatment, called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), seemed to have better protection against the incurable illness. Stock picture of a man sleeping with a CPAP machine
Up to five million people in Britain, mainly men, snore heavily – a condition called sleep apnoea.
It is known to raise blood pressure and the threat of a stroke and heart attack. If untreated, some studies suggest, it also increases the risk of dementia.
US researchers at the University of Michigan wanted to see if treating heavy snorers meant they were less likely to get dementia.
They tracked 50,000 patients with sleep apnoea before 2011.
Among those who developed dementia, they compared patients who did receive CPAP with those that did not.
The results, in the journal Sleep, showed snorers who used the device every now and then were between 20 and 30 per cent less likely to get Alzheimer’s, or any other form of dementia.
Among those who wore the mask every night, the risk fell 35 per cent.
Scientists say the results could benefit millions.
The numbers affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia are forecast to rise from 800,000 to 1.2million in England by 2040.
Dr Galit Levi Dunietz, who led the study, said: ‘We found a significant association between CPAP and lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. It could be protective for those with sleep apnoea.’
Dr Rosa Sancho, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, welcomed the study but stressed it did not prove heavy snoring and disrupted sleep actually caused dementia.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT ROBS SUFFERERS OF THEIR MEMORIES
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders
A GLOBAL CONCERN
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) which impact memory, thinking and behaviour.
There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s.
It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million.
In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.
Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society