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Disturbed Sleep and Dementia Risk

Dementia RiskDementia signifies a decline in mental ability that is caused by certain disorders affecting the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) estimates that the global cases of dementia will triple to 135 million by 2050. The latest research, released by physicians at the University of California at San Francisco finds that disturbances in sleep such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia, especially when combined with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – may increase dementia risk in veterans.

The research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2014 in Copenhagen highlights that any sleep disturbance is associated with a 30% increased risk for dementia.

A retrospective study was conducted using medical record data from the Department of Veterans Affairs National Patient Care Database on 192,266 randomly selected veterans aged 55 years and older who were without both dementia and ascertained sleep problems, including any sleep disturbance, sleep apnea, and non apnea disturbance, at baseline (2000-2003) and incident dementia during follow-up (2004-2011). During 8 years of follow-up, 10.6% of veterans with sleep disturbance developed dementia against 9.0% in their counterparts without sleep disturbance.

The report also found that in a population of people age 90 and older, high BP (blood pressure) was seen to help protect against cognitive decline. However, authors concluded that further research is required to clarify the role of sleep disturbance as either a risk factor for, or an early symptom of, dementia among veterans, and in other populations as well.

Early diagnosis is crucial for dementia patients to get appropriate treatment. Geriatric care services as well as neurology rehabilitation services at professional rehabilitation centers combine pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches such as medications, physical therapy, customized exercise programs and occupational therapy that help improve the quality of the patient’s life.

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