Latest News » Study: CPAP helps seniors with sleep apnea

CPAP has been found to help seniors experiencing sleep apnea.

CPAP has been found to help seniors experiencing sleep apnea.

As has been discussed previously on this blog, seniors often experience sleep problems. Recent research pointed to a loss of brain cells as a contributing brain health factor that leads seniors to get less sleep. But a new study shines light on another factor that causes seniors to lose out on rest — a condition known as sleep apnea. 

HeathDay News reports that research out of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London shows that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is able to treat seniors experiencing this condition, which causes sleep interruptions. The research was published in the The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Sleep apnea does more than simply disrupt sleep​, it also narrows the air passage, leading to breathing problems. The disorder is a serious condition that can result in a lack of oxygen flowing throughout the body, including to the brain, resulting in a number of health issues including fatigue. 

CPAP allows patients to wear a mask that keeps their airways open during sleep. Air is pushed through the patient's nose, allowing them to receive more oxygen. The study determined that seniors using CPAP experienced less drowsiness during the day. 

"We think low oxygen levels at night [because of interrupted breathing] might accelerate cognitive [mental] decline in old people, and studies have found that sleep apnea causes changes in the gray matter in the brain. We're currently researching whether treatment can prevent or reverse those changes," said the co-leader of the study, Mary Morrell, in a press release. 

People of all ages, not just seniors, can experience this condition but individuals over the age of 40 have a higher risk. 

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